Teenager injured in creek plunge

A Temuka teenager will undergo neck surgery after suffering serious injuries when he hit his head on a submerged rock at a swimming hole.

James McCullough, 17, was flown to Christchurch Hospital yesterday with neck and spinal injuries after hitting his head diving into the Kakanui River near Oamaru about 6.45pm.

His father, Peter McCullough, said the family were coping "as well as can be expected at this stage".

As soon as they heard the news, he and wife Stephanie drove from their Temuka home to be by their son's side.

McCullough said it was too early to say whether James would make a full recovery.

An Otago rescue helicopter spokesman said James had to be winched out of the gorge.

Waitaki Boys' High School rector Paul Jackson understood that James, a boarder at the school, had a fracture to his vertebrae and his neck.

He said Christchurch Hospital staff praised the actions of James' friend's for placing him in the "correct position".

He said those pupils were being offered support after the shock of the incident.

"Our thoughts are with James and his family, and that he makes a speedy recovery," he said.

Sergeant Wayne Brew said the incident came as a warning to swimmers and showed the importance of checking what was below the water's surface before diving in.

"Two minutes checking a swimming hole could save a lifetime of grief or recovery from injury," he said.

A Christchurch Hospital spokesman said James remained in a serious condition in the intensive care unit.

The Press