August 20, 2014 6:22 pm

Lethbridge woman paralyzed after bridge jump goes terribly wrong

WATCH: A young woman is warning others to think twice before taking a plunge. Tanelle Bolt tells reporter John Daly how she jumped off a bridge and into a river to cool off…with devastating consequences.

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Tanelle Bolt describes herself as an accomplished swimmer and athlete. But the 27-year-old’s life changed forever last week when she decided to travel with her friends to Port Renfrew; a popular tourist destination on the west coast of Vancouver Island. That’s when a decision to jump from a high bridge into the Gordon River on the hot summer day of August 10 almost caused her to lose her life.

Bolt and her friends decided to jump from a 60 foot bridge as a way to cool off. It was something she did frequently growing up in southern Alberta.

“You grow up in small town Lethbridge, Alberta and you bridge jump because there is nothing else to do,” said Bolt.

But this time when she hit the water, something went terribly wrong. As she surfaced she felt a cold rush down her body from her sternum to her toes.

“Doing the math, I hit the water at 61 miles an hour. Something felt slightly out of whack and I felt my insides explode in the water. I knew it was bad, I swam to the surface. As I swam to the surface everything to my sternum down to my toes, there was a rush of cold.”

Bolt had broken her T6 thoracic vertebrae. She was quickly air-lifted to Vancouver General Hospital where she underwent immediate surgery.

Despite repair to some of the damage in her back, the damage she suffered as a result of the jump caused significant and severe spinal damage. She was given the prognosis of life in a wheel chair.

Remarkably, she is remaining strong and wants to be an inspiration to others.

“Positive vibes go a long way.”

Her new mission in life became even more clear after an emotional visit from Rick Hansen, who at the age of 15, was injured in an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He has now become one of Canada’s most decorated Paralympic athletes.

Bolton has a website dedicated to her life changing journey and also has a donation page to help cover the growing medical costs she faces.

WATCH: Extended – Tanelle’s long road to recovery

© Shaw Media, 2014

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