Big wave surfer Shawn Dollar breaks neck off California coast

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 09, 2015 3:05 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Top big-wave surfer Shawn Dollar has broken his neck while surfing in dangerous conditions off the central coast of California and remained hospitalized on Wednesday, his management company said in a statement.

Dollar, who holds the world record for the largest wave ever paddled into, was in stable condition after breaking his neck in four places on Monday, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the Titans of Mavericks surf contest.

"I’m so thankful I’m alive and present today. Being surrounded by my loved ones through this time has been paramount for me," Dollar said in the statement.

"I’m so grateful for those who where there in my scariest and darkest hour and who acted on my behalf to get me to safety and reach the hospital in time," Dollar said. "I’m thankful to learn that even with these severe injuries I will make a full recovery."

According to the statement "a strong south swell reportedly produced strong waves with unfavorable mixed conditions," and that put "Dollar in a critical scenario that caused him to act accordingly to protect himself."

He was cared for by fellow surfers and then rushed to an emergency room, where he remains in stable condition, Titans of Maverick's said.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Dollar struck his head on a rock during the accident.

"He got really lucky, as lucky as the doctors have seen," big wave surfer Darryl "Flea" Virostko told the paper after speaking with Dollar on Tuesday. "He's recovering, he's going to be OK."

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Dollar made history when he dropped in on a 61-foot wave at the Cortes Bank, a reef 100 miles west of San Diego.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Lambert)