By Shelley Grieshop
A 22-year-old Covington man may be paralyzed after diving head first into a shallow area of Grand Lake last weekend.
Cory Canan, who was staying at the Grand Lake St. Marys State Park campgrounds, was with friends when he dove into a boat/swim beach area known as Anderson's Point off state Route 703 between Celina and St. Marys on Friday.
Canan struck his head on the bottom of the lake and became unconscious about 8:30 p.m., according to state park Manager Craig Morton. Friends kept his head above water by using a flotation device; he was reportedly breathing when rescue workers arrived a few minutes later.
The young man was first taken to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys before being transferred by CareFlight helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, where he was listed in serious condition this morning.
"It's a tragic accident," Morton said. Morton said the depth of the water where Canan dove in was only waist-deep for the rescuers who came to his aid. That surprised even Morton, he added.
"I thought it might be deeper there even though you're not supposed to dive in that water," he said.
Another surprise was the texture of the lake's bottom at that spot off Anderson Road. Instead of a muddy, muck bottom, which is more typical, the lake floor is hard in that area, Morton said. "It was a hard bottom like sand or gravel," he explained.
Morton said one of Canan's friends apparently jumped in the water first -- feet first -- and announced that the water was shallow. But unfortunately Canan reportedly did not hear him.
St. Marys Township and City fire and rescue departments were dispatched following a 911 call, but initially were directed to the beach at the campground. By 9:45 p.m., Canan was en route to the local hospital.
Morton said no one should ever dive into the lake without first checking out the area.
"There are many different lake levels out there in Grand Lake," he warned.
Morton advises swimmers to never "jump in blindly," but to always go feet first, walk the area and make sure it's clear.
"There's always the chance that even in deeper water a stump could be present. We do our best to keep up on stump removal but there are some we haven't yet identified," he said.
Morton also advises never to swim alone or jump off a boat without properly anchoring it.
"The wind can pick up and the boat can drift away. That's how people drown," he added.