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Justin Truong, 19 -- Diving Accident

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A family is in mourning after a 19-year-old man died diving head-first into a swimming pool. Police say he jumped from the second story of a house this weekend. There are hundreds of spinal cord injuries, several cases of paralysis and some deaths nationwide each year from diving into pools and the ocean. A very small fraction of those jumps are off of boards or from places designated for diving.

Justin Truong was by all accounts an amazing young man.

"Very, very gentle young boy, nice, polite," said his uncle, Chieu Truong. "Justin is a very smart boy."

He graduated from Maryknoll at 16, was attending University of Hawaii, and maintained a strong Catholic faith.

He was a kid who did so much right, yet something went terribly wrong. At a Kaneohe party this weekend, he jumped into the pool from the second story of the home.

"Very, very, very, very sad. Suffering," is how his uncle describes his family's grief.

His mother returned here from California today, crushed by another loss. Justin was an only child and lost his father last year to cancer. Dozens of messages flood his MySpace web page from friends in mourning.

Yet this tragedy isn't uncommon. There are hundreds of diving injuries each year -- most from areas not meant for jumping.

"You've been a teen-ager. I've been a teen-ager. You want to try new and daring things," said Curtis Hawkins, owner Rainbow Pool Company pool maintenance and president of the Swimming Pool Association of Hawaii. "And we think for the most part that we're doing something safe."

But about 700 times a year nationwide, diving into shallow pool or ocean areas causes spinal cord injuries -- many serious enough to cause paralysis. In several instances it's deadly.

"I just try to stress being safe," Hawkins said. "If I see horseplay or something like that where I see where it presents a dangerous situation, I'm going to say something."

He says pool owners have to be tough about safety, not just for health, but for liability.

"If you're found at fault you can lose everything you've got -- your home, your dreams, everything," Hawkins said. "You have to treat it with respect, just like the ocean. You have to be water akamai."



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