Toronto man suffers serious spinal cord injury in Sudbury diving accident

A 28-year-old Toronto man suffered a spinal cord injury after a diving accident in Sudbury last weekend. Beau Hayward was spending time at a friend's cottage when he dove into the water and struck his head on the sandy bottom.

Beau Hayward shattered his C5 vertebra and compressed his spine after striking lake bottom head first

28-year old Beau Hayward of Toronto suffered a spinal cord injury when he struck his head on the bottom of a lake in Sudbury after diving in to the water at a friend's cottage on August 19. (Bianca Wilson/Supplied)

28-year-old Beau Hayward is in hospital after a serious diving accident in Sudbury left him with a compressed spinal cord.

The Toronto man was staying at a friend's cottage in Sudbury last Sunday.

According to his sister, Bianca Wilson, Hayward struck his head on the sandy bottom of the lake after diving in to the water.

"He jammed his neck, and it cracked his C5 (low-cervical nerve) vertebra, completely crushed it. It cracked into about six pieces, and then his C4 and his C6 got cracked," she said.

"His spinal cord was not punctured or severed. It was just compressed."

Wilson says Hayward's two friends found him floating in the water and were able to revive him.

"His one friend just learned CPR at his work — for workplace safety — not even a few weeks ago, like less than a month ago."

Wilson says the friend performed CPR, which allowed Hayward to release the water in his lungs and get his breath back.

Hayward was then rushed to hospital in Sudbury where he remained in ICU until Thursday when he was transferred to a hospital in Toronto.

Doctors in Sudbury were able to remove all the fragments of the fifth vertebra.

Beau Hayward (far right) was injured in a diving accident in Sudbury. His family, including his sister Bianca Wilson (left) and mother Sharron Woodstock, all remain at his side. (Bianca Wilson/Supplied)

Wilson says her brother is seeing improvements in his movements. She says initially, he couldn't feel his arms or lift them, but he can do that now. She adds that he can move some of his fingers and can feel some of his toes when others wiggle them.

"We have a lot of hope."

She admits the healing and recovery for her brother will likely be a long process, but they should have a better idea in six months what the road ahead will look like.

"Six months is the most crucial, the first six months. This is where he's going to do the most improvement. It's going to be an exponential improvement," she said.

Bianca Wilson (top row, second from left) says her brother Beau Hayward (top, far right) has a long road ahead for his recovery, but his family and friends are rallying behind him, including creating a GoFundMe page for donations toward medical expenses. (Bianca Wilson/Supplied)

Hayward was transferred Thursday night to an acute care hospital in Toronto.

From there he is expected to be admitted to the Lyndhurst Centre in Toronto, which is one of the most prominent spinal cord and neural rehab facilities in Canada.

$75,000 fundraising goal

Wilson has set up a GoFundMe page called 'Give back to Beau Ray Hayward' to collect donations for her brother's medical expenses.

"For my brother I'll do anything."

The lofty $75,000 goal was decided upon by Wilson, after some calculations of what medical bills could add up to. She says the amount was also to show her brother that he could also achieve challenging health goals when it comes to his recovery.

"I set a goal. I am going to achieve it. Now he needs to set goals every day, every week, every month and he needs to achieve those, and he's going to know he can."

Wilson admits that her brother doesn't yet know about the GoFundMe page.

Within the first two days of the campaign, more than $19,000 had been collected.

"It's completely overwhelming," she said.

"I don't even have words...I'm overwhelmed by all the outpouring of love for Beau."

Wilson says even small donations are welcome.

"That just goes so far and it's going to help Beau in the end."

Click here to listen to the audio interview.

With files from Angela Gemmill