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Central MN hospital VP dies after diving into shallow lake

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A St. Cloud hospital vice president died over Labor Day weekend after he dove into shallow water and broke his neck.

Todd Steinke, 47, was at a cabin with his family on Cable Lake in Mentor, Minnesota, Saturday when he dove into the water around 7:37 p.m., hitting his head on the bottom and fracturing his neck, the St. Cloud Times reports.

Despite two family members reacting quickly and pulling him from the lake, the Star Tribune says, he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics who attempted life-saving measures, Forum News Service notes.

Steinke had recently accepted the vice president of philanthropy and community health position at CentraCare Health in St. Cloud. He had previously been the foundation's director of development.

"Todd's death is tragic and unexpected," Jeanine Nistler, communications director at CentraCare, told the St. Cloud Times. "Our hearts go out to his wife Cindy, and daughter Lauren, as they face this tragic loss."

Nistler called Steinke a "great guy" and "very well-respected" for his work, the paper notes.

Steinke’s employees turned his office lights on in his honor and will leave them on all week, WCCO says.

"Todd was an outstanding athlete," Nistler told Forum News Service, adding he enjoyed running, golfing and competing in triathlons.

A visitation will be held Friday at noon at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, with funeral services at 3 p.m., his obituary says.

Diving injuries

Nearly 26,000 people are treated for diving-related injuries in the United States each year, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons notes, and many of those injuries are to the spinal cord or neck, reports note.

An estimated 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. annually – diving is the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injuries among males, and fifth among females, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons notes.

An estimated 75 percent of diving-related spinal cord injuries result in the paralysis of all four limbs, the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation says.

Health care officials urge caution when diving into shallow or unfamiliar water, urging people to jump in feet first because if you break something it won't be your neck, Kessler Institute notes.

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