Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 16:42 UK

Photo shows injured 'tombstoner'

Sonny Wells in Southampton General Hospital (credit: Jacqui Unal/Family Handout/PA Wire)
Sonny Wells has regained some movement in his arms

The family of a man who jumped from a pier in a practice known as "tombstoning" have released a picture of their paralysed son in hospital.

Sonny Wells, 20, of Waterlooville, Hampshire, was airlifted to hospital after jumping from South Parade Pier in Southsea on Sunday afternoon.

His family said their active son had "lost his life in a moment of madness".

Mr Wells has been told by doctors he will be paralysed from the chest down after breaking his neck in the fall.

The keen footballer will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life after he plunged about 9m (30ft) into 1m (3ft) of water and hit the bottom.

His mother Jacqui Unal, 42, said: "We want to save somebody else. My son has lost his life in a moment of madness - he was so active.

"If we can stop someone else from tombstoning by releasing this picture it will be a bonus."

Mr Wells has undergone an operation at Southampton General Hospital to stabilise his neck.

His uncle, Gary Wells said: "After the operation he could move his arms so he is very, very lucky.

"They took a bone from his hip to put in his neck. They have put in two plates and six pins, and after they took the bits of bone from his vertebrae he managed to get his arms back.

The injured man is airlifted to hospital
Sonny Wells was airlifted to hospital from the beach

"But the doctors have told him at the moment he will be paralysed from the chest down. But who knows what might happen in the future.

"But getting the movement in his arms has lifted his spirits. Last night he was saying 'I'm going to be a boxer'."

The former soldier, who served for two years in the Kings Royal Hussars, asked doctors outright if he would walk again and they said 'no', his father Robert Wells said.

The 20-year-old was out with friends in Southsea on Sunday when he ripped off his shirt and jumped off the pier - something he has done in the past his family said.

He had to be dragged from the water unconscious and airlifted by helicopter to Southampton General Neurological Unit.


SEE ALSO
Pier jumper 'may not walk again'
13 May 08 |  Hampshire
Officers probe man's pier plunge
12 May 08 |  Hampshire
Man injured in 'tombstoning dive'
11 May 08 |  Hampshire

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