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September 01. 2013 7:46PM

Rescuers fear man who plunged into Lake Winnisquam may have injured spine

SANBORNTON – A 23-year-old Chichester man suffered serious injuries, including suspected spinal injuries, Sunday after diving into shallow water near a popular sand bar on Lake Winnisquam.

State police said a 911 caller reported the accident at 12:45 p.m., reporting that a man dove in the water and "ultimately lost feeling in his extremities."

Police said the man, who they did not identify, "dove out of the boat in an attempt to stop its forward momentum. After diving out of the boat into the shallow water, the victim advised that he could not feel his extremities."

Deputy Fire Chief Scott Taylor said the victims’ friends and others in the water near the sandbar played a vital role in the rescue, as several people stood next to him and supported him laying flat on the water.

Rescue crews handled the victim delicately as they put him on a backboard and carried him to shore. He was then taken to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, where he was airlifted by a DHART helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

"We were concerned because there was is a potential for spinal injury, and we did find a slight spinal deficit when we examined him," Taylor said. "It was really important that those people were there for him and held him flat on the water."

The sandbar area of Winnisquam has surrounding water that varies in depth, and there have been many accidents there over the years because of people misjudging the water depths.

"You can literally dive off one end of a boat there and be in 15 feet of water, but if you dive off the other end there’s only five feet," Taylor said. "There's always a potential there for serious injury."

The incident remains under investigation, police said.



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