Famous big-wave surfer – Mike Parsons – breaks neck on Ocean Beach

by on February 15, 2013 · 8 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach

Mike Parsons surfer injurd

“The amount of whiplash from the fall made my body numb,” Snips explained. “I finally made it to the beach and just laid down.” Photo: Jeremiah Klein, from Surfline.

Editor: Here is a recent report:

Mike Parsons, who once held the world record for the biggest wave surfed, was wheeled off Ocean Beach in a gurney after breaking his neck in a bad wipeout Sunday.

 While the waves at Ocean Beach that day were nowhere near as big as Parsons’ record-winning 77-foot wave, they were approximately triple-overhead in size, and powerful. When Parsons tried to catch one, he told surfing website Surfline, he fell and “then my head hit the water really hard.”

 Parsons had broken his C7 vertebra, the largest and lowest vertebra in the neck. His limbs were tingling and he couldn’t swim.

 Fortunately for him, Parsons was wearing a floatation device and was helped ashore by a nearby surfer. Surfline reports that he’ll be in a neck brace for several weeks, but otherwise Parsons is expected to fully recover from his injury.

 Parsons said he was able to surf normally with the floatation device on, and it may have saved his life Sunday:

 “I don’t know if I would’ve surfaced without the floatation, ’cause I couldn’t move,” he said. “I learned for sure — the waves were solid 10 to 12 feet, and when you’re in beachbreak that big and go unconscious, nothing can really help you.”

 Before anyone here freaks, this happened in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, … back on January 21.  Here is the report from the Ocean Beach Bulletin.

Here is the Surfline report:

Snips nearly drowns after suffering brutal wipeout at Ocean Beach; expected to make full recovery

By Marcus Sanders / Surfline /  January 22, 2013

“The amount of whiplash from the fall made my body numb,” Snips explained. “I finally made it to the beach and just laid down.” Photo: Jeremiah Klein

 Former pro, XXL winner and big-wave charger Mike Parsons suffered a near fatal freefall on a triple overhead wave in San Francisco on Sunday.

 After seeing the forecast for more long-period NW swell and offshore winds all weekend, Snips drove up on Saturday with Taylor Knox and Garth Tarlow. They were the first to paddle out in the middle of the beach at 7:00am on Sunday. “It was amazing out there, I was having the best time; everyone was getting waves,” Snips said. “I was having a blast. About four hours into the session, I was looking for one in, and a nice set was coming. I paddled for the third wave, thinking I’d get in a little early with a chip shot out the back.”

 Turned out to be not the case. “I thought I was into it, then suddenly realized I wasn’t. I took two more strokes and tried to stand up in what turned out to be the lip. I freefell, and remember my feet hitting my board for a second, then my head hit the water really hard.”

 Hard enough to get serious whiplash and crack the C7 vertebrae in his neck. “I thought I was paralyzed under water,” he said. “I had that crazy tingly feeling. My right arm worked a little bit, but it felt like it was dangling; like it had been ripped off my body ’cause I had no feeling.”

 Luckily, Snips was wearing flotation. He finally surfaced and tried getting on his board, which wasn’t working. He saw a surfer paddling out and started screaming. “I was so lucky,” Snips said. “He paddled right over to me, ditched his own board, and helped get me to shore. He really saved me, ’cause I couldn’t swim on my own — the whiplash had made my body numb. (Thanks, Charlie Vaughn! Beers on me.)”

 “I don’t know if I would’ve surfaced without the floatation, ’cause I couldn’t move,” he said. “I learned for sure — the waves were solid 10 to 12 feet, and when you’re in beachbreak that big and go unconscious, nothing can really help you. It’s almost funny wearing flotation at a beachbreak, but it’s a no-brainer for me. I could paddle and duckdive fine.”

 Parsons will spend the next six weeks in a neck brace, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Goatskull February 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

Holly S***.

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avatar ob for 3 February 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

“Before anyone here freaks, this happened in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, … back on January 21. Here is the report from the Ocean Beach Bulletin.”

you really should have written a better headline…i know a surfer here only by his first name…mike…i’m not a local so don’t know everyones last names…also didn’t know there was an ocean beach in no cal…i was startled…your bad for writing a sensational headline and putting a lame disclaimer at the end…locals, newbies, water people…mike parsons…your readers…deserve better

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avatar unWASHEdWalmaRtthONG February 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I’m going back to the kiddie pool w/ my floaties on.

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avatar joyce February 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm

i feel you should have clarified at the beginning that it was not san diego, very misleading

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avatar Seth February 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Oh… THAT Ocean Beach.

Hey, it happens, haha.

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avatar I.b.long February 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

I agree. Poor journalism. I met Snips once at a tradeshow: very nice guy and an icon/game-changer in the surfing world. Glad he’s gonna be ok. 10′-12′ Ocean Beach, SF?!?! Scary.

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

A couple of things: I was originally fooled myself at this headline – and it’s the “original” one on the site of the “ocean beach bulletin” an online site for Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Wanted to share it.

It’s freaky that there are these two beaches – 500 miles apart – with the same name. (Although, “ocean beach” is a rather mundane name for a beach, doncha think?)

I know that beach – lived a few blocks from it for a brief period back in the mid-70s – very dangerous waters, rips, tides.

Plus, once in awhile, we need to acknowledge that surfing – our community’s raison d’etre – is a dangerous sport and lifestyle.

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avatar unWASHEdWalmaRttONG February 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Everything is going to be all right.

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