Chillicothe man paralyzed in sledding accident warns of dangers

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January 24, 2007 is a day Jeremy Pauley will never forget.

"When my friends came over I said I think I broke my neck," he recalls.

He was right. He was laying in the snow unable to breathe and motionless. He had gone down a hill on his plastic sled head first.

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"I laid down stomach first and went down and instantly stopped abruptly and thought I thought a friend had thrown a snowball or something and when I opened my eyes and couldn't move my body was numb," he said.

His neck was broken, his spinal cord crushed. He's had 65 surgeries since. His dream of going to college ended.

Pauley says the hill he went down that day was actually a dirt pile left by the city of Circleville.

"Two or three days after my accident the city stored it behind a locked fence," he says.

He says he hit his head on a railroad tie buried underneath the snow at the bottom of the pile.

"I tried to lean my head back and couldn't feel any movement and reality started to set in I couldn't feel my body," he said.

He sued the city but lost, because like most parks you sled at your own risk.

He said parents need to examine their nearby sledding hill before it snows, always go feet first down the hill, and he says children should wear helmets.

"If they can protect their heads at all costs that's probably the best thing they can do," he says.

Here are some tips when sledding:

  • Avoid sledding in areas with trees, fences and light poles or on rocky hills
  • Learn how to stop and turn the sled by using your feet
  • Do not sled in the street or on a highway
  • Never ride a sled being pulled by a car, ATV, snowmobile or other motorized vehicles