Night Dive into Apartment Pool Results in Quadraplegia


On Saturday morning, February 15, 2003, at approximately 1:00 AM, 22-year-old David Smith, a resident of the Colony apartments, along with two of his friends (Jason and Reed) decided to take a swim in the apartment’s outdoor swimming pool.

Although the posted hours for the swimming pool are 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM, David used his access card to gain access into the swimming pool area. This was David’s first visit to this swimming pool. Upon entering the pool area, David does not recall seeing any of the depth markers, pool hours, universal no diving signs, No Lifeguard on Duty, No Diving, or any other signage in and around the swimming pool area.

David and his friends undressed over by the hot tub. Jason and Reed then jumped into the water. David, however, chose to dive headfirst into the water, and admits “it was more of a straight down instead of an out kind of dive.”

When David dove headfirst into the water, he hit his head on the pool bottom, resulting in a laceration to his scalp and injury to his cervical spine. David never lost consciousness, but was floating face down in the water and was unable to turn himself over. Reed and Jason thought David was playing around, until they noticed the blood from his scalp laceration. Reed and Jason then turned David over and supported him in the water until EMS could be summoned and arrived on the scene.

Fire Rescue Engine 35 (with 3 Firefighters) and Rescue 35 (with 2 Paramedics and 1 Firefighter) were dispatched at 1:12 AM. Both units arrived on the scene at 1:21 AM. Upon arrival on the scene, Rescue 35 reported they observed a 22-year-old male, alert and oriented times 3, floating face up in the outdoor swimming pool with the assistance of two bystanders, each stabilizing one of the patient’s shoulders. When the witnesses were questioned about the incident, they stated that the patient had dove into the pool and hit his head on the bottom and that after his dive, they noticed him floating limply at the bottom of the pool.

According to the EMS Incident Report, the patient was anxious and complained of no feeling in his legs. The use of alcohol and drugs was denied by the patient.

EMS fully immobilized David, while he was in the water, with a cervical extrication collar and backboard and then removed him onto the pool deck. A cardiac monitor was applied, oxygen was administered via a non-rebreathing mask at 15 liters per minute, an I.V. line was established, bloods were drawn, and the bleeding on his head was controlled. Rescue 35 then transported David to Trauma Medical Center and departed the scene for the hospital at 1:33 AM. Enroute to the hospital, David’s respiratory distress increased and his SAO2 decreased, so they provided respiratory assistance via a Bag-Valve-Mask resuscitator with oxygen administration. Rescue 35 arrived at the hospital at 1:51 AM.

As a result of this incident, David suffered a broken neck leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Print Article