It seemed like a dream sequence to Matt Fumo on that summer day near the Longport bridge. Matt was floating in the water, seemingly weightless — in a sense, an out-of-body experience. The 19-year-old recent Ocean City High School graduate quickly realized, however, that this was anything but a dream. It was a real-life nightmare.
Matt was doing what kids in this and many other areas of the country have done for generations — having fun with buddies in the water and diving off bridge embankments. It seemed like any other normal, fun-filled summer day at the shore, until that one fateful dive. Matt dove in and hit his head awkwardly on a sand bar, and broke his neck. At first, his friends thought he was just messing with them when they saw him floating in the water, but they quickly realized something was wrong and sprung into action, calling 9-1-1 as well as Matt’s mom, Gail.
“It definitely was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I don’t even know the words for it. I was numb. It’s very devastating. It was such a tragic moment going over (to the hospital). I wasn’t far from the area, and one of the boys called me and told me that Matt had been in an accident and that I needed to come. I left right away and got down to the beach just as he was getting into the ambulance. I was panicking. When he got to the hospital, a police officer called and told me he was conscious, but it was a very severe injury,” Gail said. “He had all the symptoms that he would be paralyzed from the neck down. We knew right when they put him in the ambulance it was bad. When we got to the medical center they just kind of ran me into a room. I don’t really remember, it was such a slow motion, scary moment. I was definitely broken at that moment.”