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Sturgis man badly injured attempting 'Cold Water Challenge'

STURGIS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new viral Internet fad has landed a West Michigan man in the hospital.

It's called the Cold Water Challenge.

On social media, people are daring friends to jump into a cold body of water.

To count, it has to be filmed and posted on social media within 24 hours.

Failure to complete the dare means paying money to charity.

While it sounds innocent enough--even helpful to some--a man from Sturgis has been badly injured in the process of completing it.

This past week, 32-year-old Tommy Smith dove into a lake, but didn't come back up.

Now, friends and family say he's paralyzed, all because of the Cold Water Challenge.

Dee-Dee Taylor says she was fishing with her son Wednesday night when long-time friend Tommy Smith and his family showed up.

Smith told her he was going to jump into Grey Lake outside Sturgis after being dared to participate in the Cold Water Challenge.

"He ran into the water, and ran out about 5-10 feet, and then dove," Taylor said. "And as soon as he dove, he hit his head on the bottom and just never came up."

Taylor jumped into the lake to rescue him.

"He gasped for air, and kept saying, 'I can't move, I can't feel my body,'" she said.

Emergency crews arrived, and the 32-year-old father was later flown to a hospital in Kalamazoo.

"As far as I know right now, he has three fractures to his neck, and is paralyzed from the waist down," Taylor said. "We aren't sure how well he will recover."

Taylor says in the two hours she was at the lake Wednesday, 17 people jumped into the chilly water for the challenge.

"Everyone should be aware of what they're jumping into," she said.

Firefighters from Burr Oak rushed to help Smith after the accident.

Chief Rich Ultz says he's concerned the fad is sweeping St. Joseph County.

"It could be very dangerous, not only neck injuries, but you could go into shock too, because of the water temperatures are not warm at all by any means yet," he said.

Ultz says some of the plunges have even been happening at night, creating even more dangers.

"I would personally recommend not doing this at all," he advised.

Ultz suggests waiting for a more structured event, where there is help on-scene.

"It makes you think how quickly your life can change from one little decision you do," Taylor said.

Taylor also told Newschannel 3 that she's working on getting a fundraiser together for Smith's family.



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