Big wave champion Russell Bierke took a hit to the face and was knocked out cold during a surf outside of Port Campbell. Fortunately for him, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and other surfers were on hand for the rescue.
According to reports, the 19-year old prodigy was under the water for 45 seconds before Kelly, Benjamin Serrano, Ross Clarke-Jones, Ryan Hipwood and Tom Carroll came to his rescue, put him on a jetski, and brought him to shore.
Bierke was really blue when they reached land, and had very little recollection of the incident. “I don’t really remember too much,” he told Australia’s The Standard. “I remember seeing a wave coming and then I was on the beach on all fours spewing (up water). I can’t remember the ski ride.
“(I’ve been told) I caught a wave and Hippo (surfer Ryan Hipwood) was in the channel and apparently just started screaming. Hippo could just see my board floating then and I think Hippo said another wave passed.”
According to Tina Johnstone, Warrnambool Base Hospital’s intensive care unit manager, Bierke was close to drowning saying, “It wouldn’t have taken long (for him to die).” Kelly shares the same sentiment as he said that they couldn’t have done it without the jetski.
Bierke still feels sore and banged up, but knows he could have suffered worst. “I know I’m pretty lucky from everyone I’ve talked to. It’s probably good I don’t remember much. (I woke up this morning) and I was trying my best to remember but can’t really. The way everything came together was pretty lucky for sure. “Everyone out in the line up really helped, the paramedics and the crew and the hospital.”
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