A paddler described as safe and competent arrived at the takeout and, after packing up, elected to begin a swim with a shallow surface dive. The water was opaque but generally waist deep. He struck a sand bar in shallow water with his face, driving his chin against his chest. Realizing something was wrong with his neck, he held it straight on leaving the water. After conferring with friends, he went to a hospital for an X-Ray. He was immediately put into halo traction for a lengthy recovery which, fortunately, ahs been total. The orthopedist said that nine out of ten people with a crushing fracture of the cervical vertebrae would have been paralyzed for life. He was very lucky.
ANALYSIS: Diving into murky water on rivers is always risky. Even jumps can result in serious injury. If you are not completely certain of the water from a thorough personal inspection with a probe pole, don’t do it.