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LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) – The sandbar at Haulover Beach is a very popular spot for boaters, but for off duty Lauderhill fire fighter Joshua Schwabenbauer it was a tragic outing.  On Labor Day, he and his friends were hanging out, when we’re told he dove in to the shallow water, which is only a couple feet deep.

“It’s like a shallow pool,” explained boater Matt Cooper.  “People don’t dive into a kiddie pool.”

Schwabenbauer was pulled onto a private boat, unconscious and suffering seizures.  Fortunately, a Florida Fish and Wildlife crew was nearby. Wildlife officials say one of their officers was able to bring Schwabenbauer back to shore.  While he was driving the boat, another fire fighter was on board performing CPR.

Once Schwabenbauer got to shore, witnesses say paramedics performed CPR.  Eventually, he made his way to the ICU at Memorial Regional Hospital.

Derek Avilez is a fellow fire fighter who knows firsthand about those neck breaking injuries at the beach. Two years ago, he broke his neck at Hollywood Beach in as skim boarding accident.

“I would just tell them to hang in there,” said Avilez,  “Hold on, I’m praying for them.”

Avilez is still in therapy and learning to walk and move again.  He says what’s crucial for Schwabenbauer right now is knowing that his family, friends and fellow fire fighters are rallying by his bedside hoping and praying for the best.

“To know that you have a whole family of people that are there for you and will do anything for you if you ask them.  It’s such an encouragement,” he said. “And such a good feeling to know that they’re there for you, you’re not doing this alone.”


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