Student Dies From A Broken Neck After Diving Into FL Gulf


  NW Florida Daily News


MIRAMAR BEACH -- A 23-year-old spring breaker who was pulled from the Gulf of Mexico on March 23 has died.

Ryan Edwards, a senior at the University of Tennessee, was found floating in the Gulf near Pompano Joe's after he dove in the shallow water.

He was unconscious when he was taken to a local hospital. According to a memorial website established by his family, Edwards shattered his C4 and C5 vertebra and did not regain consciousness. He was pronounced dead Tuesday.

Edwards, who was with a group of friends who had stayed on the beach throughout the night, dove into the water about 6:30 a.m., according to Operation Chief Ryan Crawford with South Walton Fire Rescue.

He was found floating in the water a few minutes later. He was brought to shore and taken to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. He was transferred to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola before he died a few days later.

Edwards' situation was in no way unique, Crawford said.

"It's more common than you would think with our visitors," Crawford said. "Every year or two we have incidents similar to this, and they're not always the same outcome as this.

"The saddest thing is, that they're so preventable. It's just tragic."

Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez with South Walton Fire Rescue cautioned visitors to understand the area they are visiting and know what they are capable of doing.

"With anything, you have to know your limits, whether it's drinking, swimming, exercising. Know your limits," Sanchez said. "It's never a good idea to dive into shallow water. You have to know where you're at."

Copyright 2012 - Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach