Cypress Falls (Texas) High football coach Kirk Eaton is the kind of man who lives life in the moment. That's why, at the tail end of a recent family trip to Canyon Lake with two of his best friends (both of whom are assistant high school football coaches) and their families, he opted for a dramatic head-first dive into the water off the boat they were driving.
Then he didn't come up.
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, Eaton probably should never have come back up alive at all. As soon as the head coach's body had reached the water, his head struck a boulder. His lower body was left paralyzed, and Eaton began to sink under the water. As he recounted later, the coach was convinced he was drowning.
"I remember drowning," Eaton told the Chronicle. "I remember thinking, 'This is it, I'm dying.'"
Instead of dying underwater, Eaton was saved by his two fellow coaching friends. First, Cypress Woods (Texas) High offensive coordinator Curtis Neill noticed that Eaton hadn't come up after diving in, and happened to see his Texas Tech hat floating in the water near where Eaton had originally hit the water.
On instinct, Neill jumped in in search of his friend. He found him, head bloodied, body limp and belly full of water which he had taken in while unconscious. Neill dragged Eaton to shore, where he was met by their fellow coach and boater, Cy Falls defensive coordinator Chris Brister.
Once they reached the shore, Brister took over, performing CPR on Eaton for four minutes. Eventually, the Cy Falls head coach regained consciousness, then began to breathe just as an ambulance arrived.
Miraculously, Eaton is already back on the field for Cy Falls' preseason practices. While he can walk on his own, Eaton is coaching from a golf cart as a safety precaution, and will continue wearing a neck brace for some time, the final results of what doctors determined was a spinal-cord compression and concussion.
In fact, Eaton might be the one person in the state of Texas who isn't going to complain about working outside in the midst of the state's ongoing heat wave for a compelling reason: He's happy just to be alive.
"If all I have to put up with is some numbness and tingling, by God I'll do that to be able to see my two girls, my wife, my football team and my coaches," Eaton said.