Published on February 3rd, 2015 | by RB TeamPhoto by Brent Screen | 1
Near Drowning Highlights Importance of River Surfing Safety
The growing popularity of the river wave on Hawea River in New Zealand has shown its dark side today when a river surfer got trapped under water on one side of a bridge pylon. He literally escaped death by inches.
The young surfer owes his life to Ben Yates, an experienced whitewater kayaker and rescue volunteer. He was alerted by a distressed woman to the river surfer who was trapped under water on one side of a bridge pylon. His board was still attached to his leg and trapped on the other site of the pylon. This is clearly a nightmare for all river surfers. He wasn’t able to release his board and got dragged under by the force of the river.
The river surfer has escaped from death by inches.
Pro kayaker Ben Yates tried to detach the leash while another kayaker tried to lift the river surfer’s head above the water. While struggling to safe the river surfer’s life, Ben got entangled in the leash and trapped underwater, luckily only for a short time. According to two other river surfers who where at the spot, the river surfer has escaped from death by inches.
Only 10 minutes prior the incident the water level was significantly higher due to Contact Energy releasing water from the Hawea Dam. If the river surfer became entangled only 10 minutes earlier, he would not have been able to get any breaths. We do not want to picture what could have happened.
The current incident reminds us of what Elijah Mack and the World River Surfing Association (WRSA) have been praying for years “the future of surfing is near, it’s nowhere near the ocean, and we don’t ever wear leashes, you always wear a helmet, you always wear a life vest.”