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Sonny Wells

June 13, 2010

A man left paralysed after jumping off a pier in Hampshire two years ago is warning others not to make the same mistake as part of an RNLI film.

Sonny Wells, 22, broke his neck when he jumped off South Parade Pier in Southsea in 2008 – a practice known as “tombstoning”.

Mr Wells, of Waterlooville, is now paralysed from the chest down.

He tells his story in a new video by the RNLI warning of the dangers of tombstoning.

Mr Wells, a former soldier, was injured in the 9m (30ft) fall into just 1m (3ft) of water.

‘Not worth it’

In the video he says: “I was very active – I’d been in the army, was a keen footballer, played golf, I was always on my toes – and then one sunny day came along and I decided to go down to Southsea and dived off the pier.

“It was something I’d done before but this time I broke my neck in three places and now suffer the consequences of being in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

“Three-quarters of my body doesn’t work, so from being an able-bodied person to how I am now is a massive change.

“It’s not just changed my life, it’s changed my family’s life. Just for that five minutes of madness, it’s not worth it.”

During the past five years in the UK there have been 139 tombstoning incidents needing an emergency response, with 12 resulting in fatalities and many more resulting in spinal and limb injuries, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

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