July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Copley man is critical after dive in shallow water

CHIPPEWA LAKE — A 19-year-old Copley resident was severely injured after diving off a boat into shallow water Wednesday afternoon at Chippewa Lake.

Wesly Chao was listed in critical condition Thursday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Watercraft specialist Rich McCullough, from the Cleveland office of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Watercraft, said Chao was boating with a group of friends around 5 p.m. when he dove head-first off a pontoon into water 33 inches deep.

McCullough said witnesses reported seeing him appear above water after he dived in, but his friends did not realize he was hurt until they couldn’t find him a few minutes later.

They found him in the water not too far from the boat, which was docked at the time, McCullough said. Witnesses estimated he was in the water about 10 minutes, he said.

“They called 911 and they tried to help him,” he said, adding that a passer-by performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.

The passer-by, 16-year-old Chippewa Lake resident David Kollar, said he was swimming when he heard commotion near the boat and saw one member of the group sitting on the back of the pontoon holding Chao partly out of the water.

“It was something that you wouldn’t want to see,” Kollar said. “It scared me at first, but the first thing that occurred to me was to get him up on the dock and start performing CPR.”

Using what he learned from Westfield firefighters in a Cloverleaf High School health class, Kollar said he did compressions and told a member of the group how to administer breaths until medical personnel arrived.

McCullough said Chao was taken by ambulance to Medina Hospital and then transported by helicopter to MetroHealth.

He said he did not know whether the bottom of the lake in that area was rocky or sandy or if Chao’s condition was due to the impact or near-drowning.

The department of natural resources is partnering with the Medina County Park District to investigate the incident, McCullough said.

“Our hearts go out to the family,” he said. “This is a pretty bad injury for someone like this to have.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.