Annapolis City Attorney Paul G. Goetzke remains in intensive care at a Virginia hospital after a diving accident in shallow water in the Potomac River on Thursday left him partially paralyzed.
Surgery to fuse a fractured vertebra near the base of his neck was postponed Monday when Goetzke, 40, started having difficulty breathing, said his brother George Goetzke. Doctors at Inova Fairfax Hospital performed a tracheotomy early Monday.
"He didn't have the strength to keep pushing the air with his diaphragm," George Goetzke said.
During tests, doctors also discovered that Paul Goetzke has a lung infection, his brother said.
"He was essentially drowning," George Goetzke said. "They have to deal with that before they are ready to operate."
The operation may be rescheduled sometime in the next few days, he said.
Paul Goetzke was injured when he dove from a dock into about 3 feet of murky water in the Potomac River to retrieve his sunglass clips, witnesses said.
He had spent the afternoon on the river with three friends. His sunglass clips fell into the water after they docked their boat at the north end of a pier at Jamaica Joe's restaurant in Fairview Beach, Va.
He is paralyzed from the chest down, but doctors say the paralysis might be because of the swelling of nerves and could subside. His spinal cord was not severed in the accident, his brother said.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions they will only be able to answer once they get in there" to operate, George Goetzke said.
Paul Goetzke, who is married and the father of two, has served as city attorney since 1993.