JENSEN BEACH, Fla. – A Florida man who broke his neck plunging in the ocean earlier this year is warning people about the dangers of diving with the waves.
Justin Aloneftis, 31, who lives in Martin County, went to the beach with some friends in April.
Lifeguards had posted a red flag, warning of hazards in the water. They intended to limit their time in the water, but at some point, Aloneftis started diving through the waves for fun."I decided to do it one last time and that's when I dove in and somehow managed to plow my head into the floor of the ocean," he said.
Aloneftis was thrown around by the waves. He was conscious, but was unable to move."I definitely thought I was going to die that day," Aloneftis said.
Eventually, his then-girlfriend and another bystander pulled him out of the water and rescue crews rushed him to the hospital.
Aloneftis broke three vertebrae in his neck. He was swimming during a shore break, an ocean condition when waves break directly on the shore. The shore break can cause small and high waves that can be unpredictable and dangerous for swimmers, experts said."We have been told by I can't tell you how many medical providers that he should be paralyzed!" said Aloneftis' father, Anthony.
In the months since, Aloneftis has had two major surgeries to fuse his vertebra. While most of his movement has come back, he now has even more painful therapy ahead of him at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
The family has set a GoFundMe page to help pay for Aloneftis' mounting medical expenses.
The Aloneftis family wants to warn others of the dangers of diving in the ocean, so no one else has to go through what they have.
"Make sure you're not diving into places that you can't see the bottom, make sure you check the depth and everything first and be extremely careful, so that you don't end up with a problem like this," Aloneftis said.