An 18-year-old was left paralyzed after diving into his grandmother’s four-foot deep pool and hitting his head.
Juan Rivera, of Des Moines, Iowa, is over 6 feet tall and was instantly unable to move anything below his chest after his head hit the bottom of the pool on July 14. The dive broke his neck and fractured his spine, according to KCRA.
“He climbed up the ladder and jumped in, and he hit his head, and he was instantly paralyzed,” his girlfriend, Ariana King, told the news outlet.
His mother, Laura Perez, said it was “so difficult” when she returned home from an errand and saw him on the ground.
Rivera’s sister, Alexandra Rivera, created a GoFundMe page, stating: “Our family is filled with grief and devastation about the whole situation.”
She added: “We are glad with all the support we are receiving from friends and family. Donations will be used for Juan’s recovery and bills for his mother Laura Perez has to quit her full-time job to be next to him and support him throughout the process. Thank you for everything and keep Juan and his family in your prayers.”
A woman who says that she knows Rivera posted on Facebook that “he has a message to share to kids and to teens like him. Do not DIVE into shallow waters — what you think is funny at the time can leave you paralyzed. Nobody especially a 18 year old wants to hear they have a 95% chance that they won’t walk again.”
On Friday, an update was posted on the GoFundMe page that said Rivera “had a bad day today” because he was unable to breathe on his own when he sat up.
“The doctors put the breathing tube back in till Friday,” the update read. “Hopefully with God’s help everything will be good on Friday when the doctors sit him up again.”
After Rivera is able to leave the hospital, he will be moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, for rehabilitation.
King told KCRA that she and Rivera’s family want his story to help others.
“You might think you’re just having fun, but I mean, one small mistake and you could mess up everything,” she said. “[We’re] making sure that [people are] careful and think twice before they dive in,” she said.