Greenville County 16-year-old now paralyzed, spreads pool safety message

Greenville County 16-year-old now paralyzed, spreads pool safety message
Greenville County 16-year-old now paralyzed, spreads pool safety message (Source: WYFF)

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A Greenville County 16-year-old is turning what happened to him into an opportunity to spread a pool safety message.

Austin Somerville says he’s now paralyzed from the chest down after a diving accident recently.

After weeks of quarantine, Austin was allowed to spend time at a private pool with friends .

"I let him go, but no hugging, you know," Kasie Somerville, Austin's mom, said.

Austin says foam bubbles were on the surface of the pool so it was hard to see the bottom when he dove in head first.

"It was in the middle of the pool," said Austin. "It was 3 feet deep and I didn't know it. It was just a split second before I hit the bottom."

"It (Austin's head) hit so hard that you break three cervicals in your neck," said Kasie. "His neck literally bowed and the three broke and came back."

"OK, I can't move first of all," said Austin. "I can't get any air, and like, is this really it."

His prayers were answered when his certified lifeguard friend rescued him.

"I will forever be grateful," Kasie said.

He is now paralyzed and at Greenville Memorial Hospital. His friends are visiting outside the hospital.

"Coming nearly every day, praying for hours or waiting hours to FaceTime with me just for a minute or two," Austin said.

Austin's message is what happened to him could happen to you.

"No matter where, it is just always, always two feet first, always two feet first," Austin said.

Kasie has a message for folks that own pools having guests over.

"Tell them about your property," said Kasie. "Tell them about your pool. This is where the deep end is. This is where the shallow end is. We don't allow diving."

For now, Austin is ready to fight to get better, with faith at the forefront.

"God has a plan and his plan going to happen for you and his plan is the best," Austin said.

Kasie says her son has been accepted into Shepherds Center in Atlanta. The center specializes spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation.

There’s a bank account set up at Bank of Travelers Rest for people interested in helping the family with medical expenses for Austin Somerville. Checks can be mailed to the address below or donations are accepted at any branch of Bank of Travelers:

  • “Austin Recovery Fund”
  • Bank of Travelers Rest
  • 1041 Verdae Blvd.
  • Greenville, SC, 29607

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