The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


December 15, 2007

Diving injury 21 years ago didn’t keep Jerry Boyko from moving on with his life

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Jerry Boyko’s mom had dropped him off at the New River Park pool. The healthy, carefree teenager had no inkling this day would change his world forever.

“I was very active and had played baseball from the age of 8, but I had reached the age limit for playing Babe Ruth baseball,” said the Prosperity native, who now lives in Charleston and works in Huntington. “I had a lot of free time, and that summer I spent most of it on my BMX bike and at the pool. My senior year was just ahead of me, and I was looking forward to going back to school.”

He and a lifeguard started a contest to see who could dive the farthest across the width of the pool.

“We were diving off the 5-foot section, but we weren’t worried about the depth because we were diving outward, not down,” Boyko said.

After about a dozen times, the pair decided to make one last dive to determine the winner.

“We backed up to the edge of the grass to get as much speed as possible before diving. As I approached the pool, my stride wasn’t going to line up with the water’s edge. I double-stepped to adjust, but when I hit the edge, I bounced straight up instead of shooting out.”

It didn’t hurt when he hit the bottom of the pool, but he heard something in his body crack.

“I knew something was wrong because I couldn’t come up out of the water. I hoped somebody would notice and help me before I drowned,” the experienced swimmer said. “I heard somebody say, ‘Come on, Boyko, quit messing around!’ I was on my last breath when Glenn Casto lifted me up out of the water. I told him I couldn’t move.”

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