Famous big-wave surfer breaks neck on Ocean Beach

Mike Parsons Ocean Beach, San Francisco broken neck

Big-wave surfer Mike Parsons was wheeled off the beach after breaking his neck surfing at Ocean Beach Jan. 20. Photo: John Brandon / Ocean Beach Bulletin

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.”

Watch Mike Parsons surf Jaws:

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  1. Mike Parsons Injured: Famous Big Wave Surfer Breaks His Neck At Ocean Beach « Go to News!
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