GLADSTONE, Ore. -- A Gladstone man who was having fun diving with his friends into the Willamette River now has a cautionary tale to tell.
Jake Wheeler was recovering after injuring his spinal cord in a diving accident. Wheelerdove head-first into the Willamette River off a private dock on July 28.
It was a bad decision, said Wheeler. I didn't know what was under there and I ended up hitting my head one something.
Wheeler lost the use of his legs and torso. He was undergoing physical therapy at Legacy Good Samaritan and hoped others will learn from his mistake. Be careful, he said. You see everybody else is out there [diving], but it takes one slip, one missed step and you could end up like me or even worse, stressed Wheeler. You might not come up.
At High Rocks Park on the Clackamas River, American Medical Response Lifeguards gave swimmers a similar warning, as they jump from the park's cliffs.
Always remember to jump in feet-first to protect your neck, said AMR Lifeguard Taneeka Means-Burwell. Never dive in headfirst and always look before you leap -- swim the area first, to make sure there's no underwater hazards where you jump.
Means-Burwell said it s also important to avoid jumping on top of other swimmers.
A few years ago, a young man was paralyzed in the water at High Rocks as he reached the surface when someone else jumped in on top of him.
With time and physical therapy, doctors hope Wheeler will regain some use of his legs.
Friends planned a fundraiser for Wheeler at Gladstone High School for August 7 at 5:30. It will include a girls soccer game, barbecue and raffle.
For more information, visit the event's facebook page here.