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Would you have reacted the same?

You are a bride celebrating your upcoming wedding with your best and closest friends when the unthinkable happens. Your best friend and maid of honor playfully pushes you into the pool, you land wrong and break your neck. You are now a quadraplegic confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. How would you have reacted?

Based on the numerous comments by some individuals, I can almost accurately predict their reaction would be a legalistic retaliation against what they viewed as the so-called “friend”. “What kind of friend would endanger another person like that?,” they would demand. “Pushing someone into a pool is an act of passive aggression and the friend cannot be innocent,” someone is bound to claim. “Actions have consequences and stupidity in a pool has it unfortunate consequences”, would be the mantra of some.

Real life bride Rachel Friedman faced that very situation. See how she reacted:

{ 74 comments… add one }
  • PrincessSimmi May 22, 2011, 5:20 am

    I’m sad about that, but I’m glad that she has such a wonderful positive outlook.

  • Iris May 26, 2011, 5:21 am

    I’m sad about what happened to this lovely woman, but I disagree that pushing her in the pool was necessarily a passive-aggressive act. Pushing a clothed person into a pool is not on, pushing someone who is dressed for swimming but not expecting it is pretty jerky, but if the were “horsing around” as the bride expresses it, it may have been just that.

    I don’t “horse around” like that anymore but when I was in my late teens and possibly early twenties it was common. If someone didn’t want to play then you didn’t hassle them but there is no indication of that here. It’s tragic that it had such a dreadful result but there may not have been even slight malice beforehand.

  • GroceryGirl May 26, 2011, 5:55 am

    I don’t think it’s an act of passive-agression. Pushing someone into a pool at a pool party is just being playful, maybe a little rough but it was a harmless act. If she hadn’t been hurt she would have surfaced and laughed and maybe thrown her friends in too. I’m sure her friends feel absolutely awful about what happened. It was a freak accident, not an intentional injury. I would forgive my friends.

  • Angeldrac May 26, 2011, 6:07 am

    On a tangent……
    I don’t know if it’s an Australian thing, because we have a bit of a “pool culture”, but we are taught at a very young age YOU NEVER PUSH SOMEONE INTO A POOL. I can’t believe this incident involved adults! While I applaud this girl for her seeming positivity and grace about the whole situation, this was NO ACCIDENT. It was a deliberate action that was stupid, irresponsible and could have been avoided with excercising some common sense.
    (I know this is not the point you’re trying to make, but it’s the one that stands out to me)

  • Anon May 26, 2011, 6:13 am

    Sorry to get technical. It’s a sad situation, but she’s actually not a quadriplegic, since she can move her limbs.

  • Mintleaf May 26, 2011, 7:07 am

    Take legal action? Surely not!
    I horse around with my friends all the time, and occasionally people do get hurt sometimes (though, thankfully not to the extent of this lovely lady). It’s just the way life goes. Stuff like this isn’t anybody’s ‘fault’. It’s just an accident, and accidents happen.

  • The Elf May 26, 2011, 7:14 am

    Intent matters a lot to me. The friend did not intend to hurt her and is probably feeling very guilt about the whole thing. Yes, it was dumb, but it was also a freak accident. It’s not like, say, drunk driving. So, I’m glad the Bride took the high road. I’d like to think I would too. What a terrible hand she was dealt, though. I guess if you can’t turn something positive with that situation you’d quickly end up beyond depressed.

  • Aje May 26, 2011, 7:35 am

    Good for her! And I love that she refused to tell the bridesmaid’s name. A true example of dignity in a time of distress!

  • AS May 26, 2011, 7:41 am

    Admin, with all due respect, I’d disagree with you that the friends were being passive aggressive. I think the friends were being playful and not passive aggressive. Accidents happen; and they can happen in the most innocuous situations. We cannot call the driver who was “at fault” in a car crash to be necessarily passive aggressive. He/she might be trying to do something that they do every day (eg., overtake another car at 5mph over speed limit), but they just got unlucky that one day. Baccalaureate parties often seem to tend to include childish pranks because the bride-to-be is with some of her closest people. Now, I agree that some pranks can potentially be dangerous (and I’d probably not push someone into a pool). But it is not as if the BTB, Rachel, didn’t know how to swim or something. The accident was very unfortunate, and the BTB could have blamed her friend or even taken legal actions. But as we often say on this site – it is gracious to forgive. Maybe the friend is feeling very awful.

    The BTB and the GTB seem to be wonderful people. They have taken control of their situation, and seem to be trying to make the best out of it. They should have a heart of gold to be able to forgive the friend and still love her. They need the support of people close to them. And what better than to be able to forgive someone who meant a lot to you, but did something terrible accidentally. I hope that if I am ever in such a situation, I can be as gracious. I wish the couple all the best for their lives.

  • Angel May 26, 2011, 7:48 am

    Paraplegic, not quadriplegic.

  • boxy May 26, 2011, 7:53 am

    It was an ACCIDENT. They were having fun, experiencing life, being playful, and a tragic ACCIDENT happened. I sincerely doubt the bridesmaid deliberately intended to see her friend paralyzed. This is just so sad because everyone involved loses.

  • Chocobo May 26, 2011, 8:29 am

    I’d like to think that I would forgive the friend instead of suing them, as sadly so many would. Especially since it’s my maid of honor and best friend — clearly it’s an accident! People do silly things like that all the time as playfulness. I wouldn’t take that as some kind of underhanded passive aggressiveness but just the playfulness of youth. Unfortunately sometimes terrible accidents, even preventable and stupid ones, can happen. I’m sure my best friend would feel horrible for the rest of her life, no need for me to make it worse by ending the friendship too.

    When I was growing up I was taught that forgiveness most benefits the victim. Yes, we should forgive others because it is the right thing to do, but forgiveness is also a release for us and gives us the freedom to heal. Harboring angry feelings and holding a grudge only serves to hurt the victim more, not the offender.

  • Cleosia May 26, 2011, 8:30 am

    They’re both class acts!

  • 1st-Time Mommy May 26, 2011, 8:41 am

    I read another interview with her when this first happened, and she was amazingly understanding of her friend’s mistake. As she put it, they were all being silly and roughhousing around, and it could have just as easily been her pushing her friend in playfully, with the same tragic results.

    I also admire her determination to be self-reliant before she continued on with her wedding. A truly amazing woman.

  • Yarnspinner May 26, 2011, 9:04 am

    okay, that puts a few things into perspective. Best of luck to them! A class act.

  • Xtina May 26, 2011, 9:06 am

    I can’t view the video, but I’m guessing from the text and the one comment posted here already that the bride forgave or doesn’t hold anything against the friend, which is pretty good of her. This is a very sue-happy society we live in, and I am convinced that most people have been programmed to automatically think along the lines of how wronged (disrespected, haha) they were and what they are owed in every adverse situation. It is the rare person that can really look at the situation and divine from it whether or not it was truly unintentional–realizing that accidents sometimes happen, and they were just the unfortunate recipient of the consequences.

  • SJP May 26, 2011, 9:10 am

    I read an interview with Rachel Friedman a couple of months ago where she talked about how this happened and how she was not going to let it ruin her life. She also mentioned how the friend who playfully pushed her into the pool was devastated by what happened (the two of them did this to each other often and Rachel acknowledged it could have easily been the other way around of her doing the pushing instead of being the one pushed).

    This was a tragic accident but her friend had absolutely no intention of hurting her, passively aggressive or not. Rachel forgave her and is maintaining a positive outlook on life. Her strength is an inspiration.

  • springishere May 26, 2011, 9:44 am

    While it was an accident, when will people learn that mature people don’t horse around like this and endanger other people’s lives? For this very reason, I refuse to allow this in our pool, and at 24 years of age, these girls should also know this. Please people, you can have fun with leaving your brain at home. If you are somewhere with a lot of drinking and horseplay going on, use your brain and leave before your life is endangered.

  • Meegs May 26, 2011, 10:26 am

    Pushing people into the pool has been going on since pools were invented and before that, people were probably pushing eachother into lakes or other bodies of water. Her friend obviously didn’t mean to paralize her, it was an accident.
    That woman is very gracious and an inspiration.

  • Ashley May 26, 2011, 10:29 am

    Aside from my own recovery, if I were in this woman’s place, I would honestly be more concerned with how my friend felt about injuring me, and making sure she didn’t feel guilty about something that was OBVIOUSLY meant to be just all in fun. You don’t even have to be actually horsing around for stuff like this to happen either. I once had just gotten out of a pool, and was simply WALKING towards my chair, when I happened to step on a particularly wet piece of ground, and WHOOMP! both my feet went out from under me. I was walking no faster than I usually do. I am lucky I ended up with no more than a very sore wrist, all from WALKING on wet ground.

    Anyways…the woman in the story clearly has a very positive outlook on all of this, and is focused very much on her recovery. It is an inspiration.

  • traze May 26, 2011, 11:14 am

    Just to address the issue of paraplegia vs quadriplegia, a person with quadriplegia may have movement of their arms, although mobility/dexterity is affected. Quadriplegia refers to the level on the spine at which the injury occurred (cervical).

  • The Elf May 26, 2011, 11:30 am

    Angel, it’s quadriplegia. She has some use of her arms, but not totally. For instance, she mentions that she types with her thumbnail but can power her wheelchair with her arms. That tells me that her larger arm muscles are working at least somewhat but her fingers are not. That fits the definition of quadriplegia. It is a common misconception that quadriplegics must not have *any* movement or feeling below the neck. It’s a matter of where the break occurs.

  • Butterfly May 26, 2011, 11:54 am

    I think this is the perfect example of how life should be handled. Her friend made a huge mistake pushing her into the pool. It doesn’t sound like it was a vicious attack by any means, but it was a huge error in judgment on how to express playfulness. I have no doubt based on how Rachel responds in the interviews that things were resolved between friends and forgiveness found, and now the friend has a chance to rethink her actions and choices and in the future choose to express herself in more mature and less dangerous ways. She’s lucky she has an angel like her Rachel to guide and correct her actions instead of someone who would’ve extracted revenge.

  • PinkWildRose May 26, 2011, 12:31 pm

    It was a mistake on the friend’s part, to push someone into a shallow pool. That’s just not careful. However, it was obviously a mistake, with no intent to cause harm. Accidents happen. I think I would have understood if Rachelle (the bride) was very angry with her friend, but I think she’s being beautifully gracious and kind about the whole thing, and I hope that the friend can come to terms with her role in what happened.

    Rachelle is obviously surrounded by people who love her, and I give kudos to the parents who raised her to be such a positive, gracious, strong-hearted woman. Her fiance is also a wonderful person.

  • kingsrings May 26, 2011, 12:55 pm

    There are different levels of being a quadriplegic, with different levels of severity.
    Long ago, my friends and I went to an annual pool party where pushing people into the pool was a regular activity there. We all thought it was so funny. Now, I can see where it was inconsiderate at the least and potentially very dangerous at the most. I would never condone doing this now. We were very lucky that nobobdy was ever hurt. But people make mistakes and do careless things sometimes. This bride admits that this was also a regular activity at their parties, and that she was just as guilty of doing it as the culprit was. I think her attitude and forgiveness is very admirable.

  • sterling May 26, 2011, 3:09 pm

    This is such a sad story and caused by a stupid mistake on the part of her friends. But I can’t say that my friends and I haven’t done the same to each other. The fact is so much can go wrong in life with suck ease. I am happy for the bride that she is able to stay positive and not fall into a cycle of blame and anger.

  • Powers May 26, 2011, 3:55 pm

    It may have been an accident, but it was still negligent. It could have been prevented with a little common sense. No point in holding a grudge, to be sure… but perhaps amends could be made by spreading the word about this sort of dangerous horseplay.

  • SS May 26, 2011, 4:05 pm

    The ‘funny’ tendency of people to push others into the pool is why I’m terrified of water. I never learned how to swim and the few times (both as a child and also as a college student) where I tried to get over my fear and go to a pool or beach to try to swim someone would think it was funny to throw me in over my head. And other times, others were getting thrown into the water near me and I ended up being pushed under when they landed.

    Sometimes it was a complete stranger (one time another kid jumped on top of me deliberately in the pool and held me under) and other times it was ‘friends’ who didn’t know I couldn’t swim who thought they were being cute. Each time ended up with me sobbing and shaking in terror and I’m now in my mid 40s and am still terrified of water (and really scared to be near it when others are around) and unable to swim.

  • NotCinderell May 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

    I think that admin has set up a straw man argument. It’s nice that she’s maintained such a positive outlook on everything, and until someone DOES suggest suing her friend, I don’t think we should be getting outraged about something that didn’t happen.

  • Twik May 26, 2011, 4:18 pm

    I would sue, even if it were a friend.

    The costs of living with such a disability are tremendous. If she sues, she can possibly access millions of dollars in insurance. If she doesn’t – well, good luck getting nursing care, or equipment, or expensive medical treatment. I hope her husband is very rich, and doesn’t leave her in a couple of years, as husbands are known to do even when their wives are not handicapped.

    Suing is not intended to punish the friend, it’s intended to get some sort of reimbursement for the cost of an injury, as insurance is intended to provide. Without the lawsuit, it’s very unlikely that any insurance company will pay off any of her costs. I love my friends, but I don’t know if I could say, “Your actions sentenced me to a life of relying on others, and mountainous medical bills, but darned if I’m going to expect you to risk *your* nestegg on my account. Far better I end up in public care than you lose your savings, even if you’re so young that you probably don’t even have a lot saved yet. You’re my friend, right?”

  • Hollanda, UK May 26, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Ok, I find this frightening. Like many people who have posted before me, I was taught by my parents to be very careful around water, particularly where drink is concerned. People who have been drinking alcohol simply do not exercise the same level of caution that they would when sober, as the alcohol affects inhibitions and ability to use judgement safely. It’s the same reason that cars and drunk people don’t mix. Someone doesn’t have to be falling over drunk to still be affected by alcohol…you can look and feel “safe” and still be intoxicated. Aside from that point, even if alcohol hadn’t been involved, these people were not kids and old enough to know that pushing people in pools is irresponsible and can have devastating consequences.

    I feel very deeply for the HC and the bride’s friends in all of this. Intent, in this case, is not the issue really. It’s clear that nobody MEANT for this to happen. However, it isn’t exactly something that you can shrug off with a casual “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it” and everything will be OK again. 🙁 I don’t know how I would personally feel in that situation, nor how I would react. There is part of me that feels we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, ie how the bride REALLY feels. I’m not saying this is the case, but surely it is possible that she is putting a brave face on things in public, but is justifiably hurt, angry and frustrated that what should have been one of the best nights of her life ended so horrendously.

    I hope the HC have a fantastic life together and feel devastated for them, but I pray that they will work things out in their minds and find the best way forward to deal with what has happened. With regard to her friends, they are going to have to live with what they have done and I sincerely hope that this story sends out the very powerful and necessary message to exercise caution when around water. 🙁 It’s so sad. 🙁

  • June May 26, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Powers– I agree. While she doesn’t stand to gain much by harboring anger and a grudge against her friend (although I’d understand if she did), this is a way to make it better and let people know the dangers associated with it. I think this is the type of incident people don’t believe will ever happen to them. She gives it a real face.

  • Jessica T May 26, 2011, 7:22 pm

    I think it must be an Aussie thing Angeldrac; because I was also taught from childhood that it is NEVER EVER EVER ok to push someone in a pool, its a rule on every public pool I have been to and they also taught it at my school. They can smash their head on the side or bottom or just fall the wrong way. I understand how it was a mistake and probably wouldnt blame my friend either BUT common sense does go a long way. Why do something so pointless but dangerous? you would be surprised how often it goes wrong.

  • SJ May 26, 2011, 7:25 pm

    I’m not the personality that would be cool with being pushed into a pool. I would have been annoyed even if I suffered no injury.

    This bride is full of class. I get that it was an accident, but I’m still amazed. I applaud her grace.

  • Eisa May 26, 2011, 8:01 pm

    I also applaud her grace. I think her attitude is absolutely incredible and amazing. I think that it was *very* classy of her not to mention the name of the friend who pushed her in. And I’m so glad that her fiancé stuck beside her.

    About the pushing someone into a pool–I get that now it’s easy to look at it and go see, things can go really badly wrong, how could they even think of pushing each other into the pool, but really…unless it has happened to you or someone you know well, you just don’t think of those kinds of accidents. I wouldn’t push anyone into a pool, but that’s more because of my *own* comfort levels and how I would feel–which for one, would be extremely panicky as I can’t swim! xP

  • HL May 26, 2011, 8:33 pm

    I think this woman’s reaction was appropriate considering she saw nothing wrong with pushing friends into the pool herself and could easily have been the one who ended up seriously injuring someone else. It’s really impressive that she realized that and forgave her friend so easily, I think a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do that.

    If some individuals’ reaction would be a legalistic retaliation there’s a good chance that that’d be completely appropriate for their situation if it happened to them, though. You shouldn’t push people into a pool unless you know they don’t mind that kind of thing, if someone feels that strongly about how stupid and dangerous it is their friends would probably know how they felt and so it really would be an act of passive aggression to do it to that particular person.

  • Harry May 26, 2011, 8:37 pm

    MINTLEAF … “accidents happen”. What a terrible thing to say. They happen because of stupidity like this.

  • Caper May 26, 2011, 10:58 pm

    I saw this on TV a while back and I was stunned at how forgiving and understanding this bride is. Truly an inspiration.

  • Dani May 26, 2011, 11:52 pm

    I just need to medically clear up this debate between paraplegia and quadriplegia. Paraplegia is very literally the inability to use one’s legs. Quadriplegia is the inability to use all four extremities. Also, hemiplegia is another condition in which one in incapable of using one side of their body (like stroke victims).
    Also, that bride is amazing for not holding a grudge against her friend. I have to admit that I would not have been so gracious, simply because the behavior shouldn’t have been going on to begin with.

  • Liz May 27, 2011, 2:12 am

    I wonder what the response in this comment section would have been if the woman had died? Just a mistake? Just a freak accident? Would posters saying the friend doesn’t deserve to be “punished” still be saying that had she died?

    The friend made a choice to push her in the pool, no she didn’t intend her any harm… but she did harm her, all actions have consequences.

    The woman is incredibly graceful and forgiving, and I believe that is to be admired… however I think she has the right to compensation for medical bills, loss of income, etc.

  • Sarah Peart May 27, 2011, 2:47 am

    I do think that this should be given as a warning to all Highschoolers. In my case I do not come from a country with a pool culture but if Australians are taught not to do it, then it seems to me to be a good idea to make this more widespread! I wish the bride, bridegroom and her best friend all the best and you know you should never give up – she is young and maybe there will be more improvement than anyone expects! Doctors have to err on the side of caution but the human body has more secrets than we will ever know!

  • Ange May 27, 2011, 2:56 am

    Glad the paraplegic/quadriplegic thing was sorted. I know quadriplegics who can walk so….

  • lkb May 27, 2011, 5:33 am

    What a moving story! I was especially touched at the very end when the HC said she and her family are all supporting the best friend who admittedly has had a hard time dealing with the consequences of something stupid she did. The bride said forgiveness wasn’t even an issue.
    Wow! I want to be like that.
    I wish all those involved all the best.

  • karma May 27, 2011, 5:45 am

    Ever been pushed into a pool? It’s not actually fun. It usually happens when you least want to go in, when you didn’t have a good footing, and you didn’t have time to grab a lungful of air. So you find yourself scrabbling at the edge of a slick, cement pool trying not to scrape up your leg as you go in sideways and hope you don’t crack your head on the side or another kid.

    It’s mean behavior, but because it is called “playing” (since *obviously* no one ever gets hurt), people do it.
    Keep your hands to yourself, people. When someone want to go in, they do a fun little thing called “jumping”.

  • MellowedOne May 27, 2011, 7:56 am

    It’s not just a cultural thing, it’s a common sense thing. I’m not Aussie but I, like everyone I know, was taught, ‘do not run around the pool or push people into the pool’. Common sense. Why? Because someone could get hurt.

    I feel so sorry for the Bride. She is handling the matter with extreme grace and kindness. Since it’s her best friend, she is probably aware that her friend will agonize over this the rest of her life, knowing her stupidity caused the accident.

    I don’t believe a lawsuit is in order unless the best friend denies responsibility for the bride’s medical bills. Regardless of intent her actions caused the accident, and she is legally liable.

  • DGS May 27, 2011, 8:50 am

    Quite frankly, I think that the hypothetical argument is bizarre. This woman is quite gracious and wise, but it’s hard to predict how one would react and what one would focus on without ever actually being in this situation. You would hope that you would react just as graciously and humbly, but one never knows, and it’s hard to predict one’s own reaction without (thankfully) having been in that predicament. I wish this woman nothing but a life full of happiness, and I give her kudos for her resiliency, courage and grace, but I think it’s preposterous to proclaim “I would do the same”, or “I would definitely sue” without ever having encountered those type of circumstances.

  • Amanda Kate May 27, 2011, 10:13 am

    I totally agree with the bride. Accidents happen. People push each other into pools all the time, just being playful. If she had pushed onto a hard floor, then I would be more critical. But I’m sure her friend was devastated by what happened.

  • Hemi Halliwell May 27, 2011, 10:18 am

    The bride is very gracious and forgiving. I agree with the comments that we should all be teaching our children ( and adults, too) that pushing someone in the pool, even as a “joke”, is extremely dangerous!! I also agree that even though the friend truly meant no harm, the BTB still deserves compensation for the medical bills, possible nursing care and necessary equipment bills.
    I have always been terrified of water since a near-drowning as a child and would never,ever push someone into a pool, even if they had done the same to me.

  • Stepmomster May 27, 2011, 1:22 pm

    I wouldn’t have sued, but I think I would have been very depressed. If it happened now, I would be bitter, because of my children and how much they depend on me. It wouldn’t happen now though, since we are all past that age of horseplay.

    Back when I was young, I wouldn’t have blamed her, but my parents would have freaked completely out. I think her joyous spirit has a lot to do with her family and Fiancée sticking by her besides her inner strength, so I commend all of their bravery and good hearts.

  • Andrea B. May 27, 2011, 2:28 pm

    First, I’d like to say that I wish the bride the best. I can’t imagine what she is going through.

    Second, I’d like to say that I’m not an Aussie, but I, too, was taught to NEVER push someone in the pool. My parents have a pool, and if we kids did pushed anyone in, my parents would forbid us from going in the pool for the rest of the day. They were pretty serious about pool rules: No pushing people in; no shoving people; no running around the pool; do not swim alone; look before you jump; diving only off of a certain side of the pool, etc., etc.

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