A lucky surfer lived to tell the tale of how strong and unpredictable the waves at Zicatela Beach can be, as well as that of the people of Puerto Escondido coming together to his aid.
Matt Bromley, a big wave surfer from South Africa, suffered a bloody head injury on Friday after being struck by the nose of his 2.9-meter surfboard in waves as high as 3 to 4.5 meters.
Alan Van Gysen, who saw the mishap from the shore, said the tip of Bromley’s board “missed his eye by millimeters,” leaving instead an “exceptionally wide and quite long” injury running from his eyebrow all the way to the top of his head. Other than swelling, the surfer is recovering without any concussion concerns.
“There is nothing wrong with the bone, no fracture, no cracking. It was just all muscle and tissue and skin that was affected,” he added.
Moments after Bromley was struck, members of the Puerto Escondido lifeguard corps attempted to go to his aid, but their personal watercraft broke down, leaving them stranded on land.
Undeterred, they contacted some local fishermen, who went to Bromley’s aid and took to the beach, where an ambulance was waiting.
The injured surfer not only had to deal with the pain and blurry vision due to the blood running down his face, but also the strong waves, which kept crashing into him and making his attempts to swim back to the shore that much harder.
“Watching him take that beating and then have four waves afterwards pounding him and ripping him out to sea was really gnarly to watch,” said Van Gysen.
Once he got through the last wave, a group of surfers came to his aid, helping him get to the fish boat.
Bromley will be heading back to Cape Town this week once doctors clear him of any infection risks.
Van Guysen said he hopes and prays that “accidents like these will ignite the support the lifeguards so desperately need at what must be one of the most dangerous waves in the world. It is much gnarlier than I ever imagined.”