Fifteen-year old Joey Johnston Jr. decided to leap off the Pinellas Bayway Bridge with friends, and it didn’t end well.
“We were jumping off the side on a smaller part just having fun and everything was great, and we decided to step it up and go to the very middle,” Johnston told WFLA.
Johnston is sharing his story with hopes of preventing at least one person from making the same mistake.
“It’s not a joke and these videos that kids see, inspire them to want to go out and do them themselves, but they don’t realize the dangers and the risks of it,” Johnston said.
Johnston did a flip from the highest point, which is 65 feet above the water.
“I did a back flip and completely over rotated it and landed just right on my back on the water. From that height, it’s like hitting concrete. As soon as I hit the water, I was motionless, like, I couldn’t move,” Johnston said.
“I started sinking and my friend Danny quickly swam down and grabbed me and he kept me up. I told him just keep me up so I can breathe and he kept me afloat.”
Johnston has been at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital since the accident about two weeks ago.
He has a severe spinal injury.
While he focuses on getting better and being able to walk again, Johnston is getting some Major League support.
On Sunday, Tampa Bay Rays player Daniel Robertson stopped by to cheer him on right after hitting a walk off grand slam.
“Bottom of ninth Daniel Robertson hit a walk off grand slam and then an hour later, the next thing I know, he shows up in the room. I told him, ‘Hey, we just saw your grand slam.’ He said, ‘I did it for you bud,'” Johnston said.
“That was incredible, just knowing that he was there to support me and tell me, ‘you can do this,’ it was just a great surprise for me.”
Robertson said he met Johnston’s father, Joey Senior, who writes a sports column. When he heard what happened, he knew he wanted to stop by to show his support.
“He was in good spirits. He was laughing. He told me about what happened and how he learned from it. I wanted to help encourage him,” Robertson told WFLA.
Johnston still has a long road ahead, and will likely soon transfer to an out of state spinal injury facility.
To follow Joey’s journey click here.
The family has two fundraisers to help offset the costs of his care.