Former lifeguard gets back in water after accident
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A former lifeguard went for an emotional swim for the first time in years after a diving accident left him paralyzed.
It's been seven years since Eric Hoyos has enter the ocean water.
Hoyos, a former Pompano Beach lifeguard and avid surfer was paralyzed Easter Sunday 2006 after diving head first into a sand bar. "I tried to kick my legs, and they didn't respond," said Hoyos. "On my last breath, I said, 'If I'm going to die, they are going to see a smile on my face,' and wouldn't you know, right at that time, they turned me over."
"I remember being in the hospital that night when it happened," said Deerfield Ocean Rescue Captain Mike Brown. "They told me he would never breathe again or be able to move his arms, and look at him now. He is about ready to go in the water with me."
The 44-year-old Hoyos is a quadriplegic. His strong will has gotten him passed many hurdles, but now he faced another one: getting back in the water.
He did it thanks to a specially-designed chair now available to the public in Deerfield Beach, and for that he thanks Terri and David Rittenhouse.
The special chair is one of two available in Deerfield Beach. All the proceeds that made the chairs a reality were donations. "We made a web site and asked all our friends for money," said Rittenhouse. "A lot of our friends donated, and then we started to going to the local businesses here."
Getting on the chair was a process for Hoyos. "I have to take life with a little bit of humor," he said.
But once he got on he felt right at home. "Yes, it's very cozy," said Hoyos.
Woman: "Are you ready for a margarita? That's all you're missing right?"
Hoyos: "Yeah! Well, I need some girls fanning me, but that's OK."
He kicked his head back and enjoyed the moment with a smile that's contagious, a smile that truly showed happiness and gratitude. "It's awesome," said Hoyos. "Awesome. It was therapeutic. It was fun, brought back a lot of memories. It's a total joy."
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