Family and friends hold onto hope after diving accident
DENVER — Doctors have said Adam Dancoff, 21, of Denver will remain paralyzed following a diving accident in Lake Norman, but his family remains hopeful.
“He’s doing a little better, his vital signs are stabilized, he’s alert, he’s eating, he’s sitting up in bed and they’re getting ready to move him from the ICU,” Adam’s stepmother Cindy Dancoff said.
Dancoff said Adam will soon move to the rehab floor at Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte or to the rehab facility next door.
“That’s the next step in the long process we’re going through,” Cindy Dancoff said. “The doctors are saying he’s paralyzed, but a lot of times that’s just the doctor’s way of not giving us false hope.”
Dancoff said Adam was out on the boat with friends and family Saturday, July 14, when a storm came through and the group pulled into a cove to get off the boat.
“They had just gotten done eating dinner near Exit 36 when the storm was coming in, so they pulled over and were getting off the boat, and (Adam) went to the back of the boat and dove in,” Cindy Dancoff said. “It was shallower than he thought and his neck hit the sand. When he came up, he told his brother John he couldn’t feel his legs and started to go under, so they knew he wasn’t kidding.”
Dancoff said Adam’s brother and a fellow firefighter got Adam to shore and stabilized his neck and back and waited for Iredell emergency services to come to the scene, then he was airlifted to CMC-Main.
“They did all they should have done to keep him stabilized,” Dancoff said. “And it could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t been with people who can deal with back injuries.”
But Dancoff said Adam is strong and will eventually walk again.
“We think he will walk because that’s just our family and that’s his strength,” she said. “We know it’ll be a long road, but we have every confidence he will walk.”
Cindy Dancoff and her husband John Dancoff own Steele Rubber Products in Denver. The two worked in shifts lately to ensure someone is with Adam at all times.
“We have a large family, so we have a lot of support for him,” she said.
And a lot of that support is coming from Adam’s other family, the Lincolnton Fire Department, which is working on getting wheelchair ramps built at Adam’s home.
“We have a local relief fund and we’ve contacted a company that manufactures wheelchair ramps,” Assistant Chief Mitch Burgin said.
Burgin said the department hired Adam in July 2011, but in just the first year he’d become an instrumental part of the department.
“We have had a firefighter down there around the clock since it happened,” Burgin said. “We’ve been taking turns going down and really assisting the family however they need us. If they need someone escorted to the car or whatever. We’ve provided meal or two, catered some food. We’ve really just tried to be there for the family for whatever they need, no matter how small.”
Burgin said this dedication from the firefighters is, “What we call the brotherhood of the firefighter.”
He said the department doesn’t have any plans yet for additional fundraisers, that Adam should receive some money from the various rescue associations and state associations to which he belongs that should help cover medical bills.
“That’ll take us in a couple months and then we’ll see what happens after that,” Burgin said. “We’ll do a little bit at a time. But he’s one of our young guys and he was going to be a good one. We’re hoping for a miracle that we can get him back. We’re not giving up yet.”