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Man paralyzed after diving at Virginia Beach Oceanfront broke 3 vertebrae

Fiancé: 'He said he was being tossed around in the ocean like a rag doll'
Chad Rosenbrock
Posted at 12:54 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 00:54:50-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The fiancé of a man who was paralyzed after diving into the ocean at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is warning beachgoers of oceanfront dangers.

Chad Rosenbrock is paralyzed from the chest down after diving at the ocean. He dove into the water on May 22 like he had done many times before, but his fiancé, Claudine Arena, says that day the water was rough.

Chad Rosenbrock and son
Chad Rosenbrock and son

"He said he was being tossed around in the ocean like a rag doll and holding his breath praying that someone would notice. It compressed his spinal cord and that’s how his injury occurred." Arena said.

Rosenbrock was enjoying the beach that day with family and friends when his fiancé says his friend Jorge heard screams.

"He said he heard people screaming for help that someone was in distress and he just took off running down the shoreline. He didn’t know that it was Chad. He saw a body floating in the water, face down and couldn’t see who it was."

Arena says Rosenbrock couldn’t do anything in that moment.

"As soon as he pulled him out of the water, he said, 'I can’t feel anything.' We’re not sure if he hit his head on the bottom of the ocean or a sandbar or a strong, rough wave."

Chad Rosenbrock after surgery
Chad Rosenbrock after surgery

He broke three vertebrae in his neck and has had to have two neck surgeries. Arena says red flags were up on the beach that day, on May 22 to remind beach-goers to be cautious. She also says there were strong rip currents. Here’s what she recommends to beach-goers if the red flags are up:

"If it feels very strong and knocking you down or if you think the waves are rough and the red flags are out, then I would just be extremely careful and maybe not go in as deep or not go in at all."

Arena says it happened here at the beach near 46th Street. Rosenbrock is currently in the ICU at a Virginia Beach hospital. He will be going to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta in the upcoming weeks.

If you would like to donate to Rosenbrock's recovery fund, click here.