Teen Possibly Paralyzed in Tragic Boating Accident

By Krystal Shull
By Max Resnik

June 18, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 9:10 AM EDT

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Two people were injured in a boating accident on Hamilton Lake leaving a 17-year-old possibly paralyzed for life.

On Friday afternoon close to 4 p.m., the 17-year-old boy jumped off of the 30 foot bridge in Crystal Cove at the same time a boat was passing under the bridge. The boy struck the right front edge of the boat with his back as he jumped for the water.

Todd Wulff, a passenger on the boat driven by Lisa Wulff, was sitting where the boy landed with his hand resting on the edge of the boat. Wulff's hand was crushed between the boy's back and the edge of the boat causing partial amputation to several of Wulff's fingers.

The boy suffered a fracture to the lumbar area of his back causing a spinal injury and possible permanent paralysis.

Tom Poynter, a resident of the lake community in Hamilton, says he and his neighbors cannot believe any kids take this risk.

"Most of the neighbors just can't believe the kids would continually do that. I don't know. I don't know where the responsibility lies.”

Lindsay Word lives just seven miles from the lake and visits nearly every weekend. She says there are always a group of kids ready for the risk.

"There's always kids jumping off here. Every time. Every time we go underneath the bridge they're always standing up here and they wave and then as soon as you go under they just jump in."

Nick Snicksteinke also lives in the lake community. He says it’s not just a handful of kids jumping from the bridge.

"It's nothing to see 10 to 20 kids jumping off the bridge every weekend."

While Indiana’s NewsCenter was in Hamilton working on this story, a group of young men showed us how easy it is to take the jump. All but one of the young men, even with the knowledge that a boy had been paralyzed the day before, took the jump. Jaden Overholt was one of those young men.

“It’s like 10 feet deep, so just jump smart.”

According to the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department, there is no ordinance forbidding this type of thrill seeking. Many of the Hamilton residents and lake visitors we spoke with today hope that some action can be taken to prevent an accident like this from occurring again.

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