Fact Check

High Diver Saved By Cross

High diver saved from jumping into a drained pool when he casts a cross-like shadow on the wall?

Published Oct 19, 2000

Glurge:   High diver is saved from jumping into a drained pool when he casts a cross-like shadow on the wall.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 1998]

In 1967 while taking a class in photography at the University of Cincinnati, I became acquainted with a young man named Charles Murray who also was a student at the school and training for the summer Olympics of 1968 as a high


diver. Charles was very patient with me as I would speak to him for hours about Jesus Christ and how He had saved me. Charles was not raised in a home that attended any kind of church, so all that I had to tell him was a fascination to him. He even began to ask questions about forgiveness of sin.

Finally the day came that I put a question to him. I asked if he realized his own need of a redeemer and if he was ready to trust Christ as his own Saviour. I saw his countenance fall and the guilt in his face. But his reply was a strong "no."

In the days that followed he was quiet and often I felt that he was avoiding me, until I got a phone call and it was Charles. He wanted to know where to look in the New Testament for some verses that I had given him about salvation. I gave him the reference to several passages and asked if I could meet with him. He declined my offer and thanked me for the scripture. I could tell that he was greatly troubled, but I did not know where he was or how to help him.

Because he was training for the Olympic games, Charles had special privileges at the University pool facilities. Some time between 10:30 and 11:00 that evening he decided to go swim and practice a few dives. It was a clear night in October and the moon was big and bright. The University pool was housed under a ceiling of glass panes so the moon shone bright across the top of the wall in the pool area. Charles climbed to the highest platform to take his first dive. At that moment the Spirit of God began to convict him of his sins. All the scripture he had read, all the occasions of witnessing to him about Christ flooded his mind. He stood on the platform backwards to make his dive, spread his arms to gather his balance, looked up to the wall and saw his own shadow caused by the light of the moon. It was the shape of a cross. He could bear the burden of his sin no longer. His heart broke and he sat down on the platform and asked God to forgive him and save him. He trusted Jesus Christ twenty some feet in the air.

Suddenly, the lights in the pool area came on. The attendant had come in to check the pool. As Charles looked down from his platform he saw an empty pool which had been drained for repairs. He had almost plummeted to his death, but the cross had stopped him from disaster.

Origins:   You have to wonder about a university that would grant one of their top athletes — a guy who's in training for the Olympics — special pool privileges, then close their pool for repairs and drain it, without even notifying him about their


Well, bureaucratic snafus do happen. Still, you have to wonder about a diver who walks around a pool, climbs up a ladder to a diving platform, and stands overlooking the pool in a building "under a ceiling of glass panes" on a night when "the moon was big and bright" yet didn't once notice the absence of light reflecting from where the water should have been. And you really have to wonder about an experienced diver who plunges into a darkened pool from a high-dive platform without having first checked the water to ensure that there are no objects (such as people) in his landing area.

Well, maybe Charles had a lot on his mind that night, being overburdened with his sins and all. Still, you have to wonder what would have happened to him if he'd been thinking about Judaism or Islam instead of Christianity. Did he have a diving stance in his repertoire that would have produced, say, a shadowy star of David shape on the wall?

Ah, but the Lord moves in mysterious ways. If the circumstances were different, surely He'd have tested Charles in some other way, or found an alternate means of providing a sign of His presence.

One important mystery remains unsolved, however. The Cincinnati Post reported that after receiving many e-mail inquiries about this story, the University of Cincinnati checked to see if they could verify the details. Although the university's swimming pool is housed in Laurence Hall, "a room whose west wall is made entirely of glass panes," a university spokesman said that only two Charles Murrays attended the school in the mid-1960s: one left before 1967, the other wasn't enrolled in 1967, and neither of them was a diver.

A reader has reported hearing around 1950 the same tale told about a then-unspecified school while he was a student at a Scripture lesson school in England. "We were supposed to draw the moral that the sign of the cross would save us, but I thought it was a daft conclusion even then."

Last updated:   23 February 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Huba, Stephen.   "E-Mailed Story Has UC Stumped."

    The Cincinnati Post.   27 May 1999.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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