It began as an ordinary trip to a favourite spot along Peninsula Lake.
Bradon Lamoureux and his friends had gotten off work early so they went to a part of the lake where the water is about three feet deep with a sand bottom.
There, they took turns diving through a hula hoop into the water. On Lamoureux’s turn, the 23-year-old jumped cleanly through the hoop and landed in the water.
But friends knew something was wrong when, a few seconds later, his body floated to the surface, with his face still in the water. They quickly ran in and turned him over.
“That’s when Bradon says, ‘I’m in trouble because I can’t feel my arms and legs,’” his mother Lynne Lamoureux told the Star from St. Michael’s Hospital.
Lamoureux has been in the intensive care unit since the July 21 accident that has left him paralyzed from the neck down.
St. Michael’s has seen a recent spike in diving accidents, prompting Dr. Michael Cusimano to issue a warning to swimmers.
Seven people have been treated for spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis since May. That number is up from the hospital’s average of one serious diving injury per year for the past 10 years, the neurosurgeon said.
Cusimano estimates that a few dozen severe diving injuries are treated in Toronto each year. They include spinal cord or brain injuries, a combination of both or, in a rare case, death.
“(An accident) is pretty uncommon, but whenever it happens, it changes a person’s life forever,” he said. “Even one is too many.”
For the Lamoureux family, the most difficult part has been not knowing how their youngest son’s recovery will go.
“You give yourself timelines, like, ‘He made it 24 hours,’ then ‘He made it 48 hours,’ then ‘He’s gone on for five days and he’s still alive.’ Things like that,” Lamoureux’s mother said.
Doctors have told them Lamoureux, a carpentry apprentice, will never fully regain movement from the neck down. For now, their goal is to get him off the ventilator that’s helping him breathe.
Most accidents occur in pools, not lakes, and alcohol and rough play are factors in more than half of them, Cusimano said.
But some, like Lamoureux’s, are just a “freak accident,” his mother said. “Just make sure you’re aware of everything. It can happen anywhere.”