VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – As the weather warms up, you can expect to see even more people heading to the beach.
A Virginia Beach family is reminding the public to be cautious after a terrifying incident recently left a loved one paralyzed.
10 On Your Side spoke with the fiancée of 46-year-old Chad Rosenbrock.
We’re told he’s paralyzed from the chest-line down after diving into the water while at the Oceanfront almost two weeks ago.
His fiancée, Claudine Arena, hopes sharing the ordeal might prevent it from happening to someone else.
The family is also trying to locate the man who first noticed Rosenbrock in danger and alerted others for help.
The accident happened on May 22. Arena stayed home while Rosenbrock and his son went to the beach with some friends.
She said Rosenbrock dove into the water just like he had so many times before. However, this time he was in trouble.
“He said he was floating in the water kind of being tossed around, holding his breath. He said he couldn’t get himself up and out. He heard an older gentleman yelling for help,” Arena said.
Rosenbrock’s friend, George Vargas, heard the calls for help.
“I just run and run and there’s a body face-down in the water and I get down to the body and I flip them and that’s my friend, Chad,” Vargas said. “He’s got his eyes completely perplexed, wide-open and he’s like ‘George, I can’t feel nothing.’”
First responders rushed Rosenbrock to the hospital where doctors confirmed he’d broken three vertebrae in his neck.
Arena said she’s not sure if he hit his head on the sand or if a strong wave may have caused the injury.
“The waters were very rough that day and I was told that red flags were up,” she said.
Family and friends said Rosenbrock is an active guy who loves the outdoors. He’s been through three surgeries and his journey is far from over. They’re reminding the public to heed ocean safety advisories.
“We kind of get used to and desensitized to precautions and warnings,” Vargas said. “It can happen to anyone.”
“Look at the flags — if they’re red then maybe you shouldn’t go in,” Arena said.
Meanwhile, they’re hoping to find the older man who first noticed Rosenbrock in the water. They said that stranger is the reason he’s alive today.
“I’m very thankful to him and his family and I hope that the world just repays him in kindness,” Vargas said.
Rosenbrock is still recovering in the hospital and may be transferred to a rehab center in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you know the person who noticed Rosenbrock in the water and alerted others for help, contact the WAVY newsroom at 757-396-6180.
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