Sunday, January 23, 2011

Law-breaking photographer saves the life of Maverick's surfer

Check out this huge swell that almost takes out a group of surfers! SURF

Russell Ord wasn't supposed to be in near the lineup at Maverick's on his Wave Runner Saturday. Technically, he was breaking a recently passed ban on personal watercraft in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary imposed by NOAA.

Luckily, that didn't stop him from taking photographs of surfers braving a clean late January swell this weekend.

While his presence there may have miffed some, it's clear now that his quick action saved the life of surfer Jacob Trette when disaster struck in the morning. Ord's life-saving action is exactly why many surfers opposed the ban in the first place, citing the lack of life-saving apparatus allowed near the break on big days as a danger.

The incident occurred at approximately 9:45 am Saturday morning, when a huge set of waves caught a number of surfers by surprise. Many of them had been lured closer to shore where cleaner waves were breaking more consistently on the higher tide. Then suddenly a huge 25-foot cleanup set approached, heaving way outside of where the pack was sitting. Surfers scrambled and scratched for the horizon to avoid being pummeled. Trette was one of the unlucky ones.

The 30-year-old surfer was sucked over the falls by the first wave after failing to make it over. (He's visible in in the middle of the shot above, paddling the green board.) When he finally resurfaced Trette was staring
straight at another 20-foot wave crashing down on him. He endured two two-wave hold downs before being washed through the rocks inside.

When the set approached Ord was sitting safely in the channel on his ski, but sprang into action as soon as the 20-foot set cleared. In the commotion, he nabbed Alex Bottello, another victim, and pulled him out of the impact zone. He was zipping Bottello toward shore when the two spotted Trette's lifeless body floating face-up in the frothy whitewater way inside.

Ord jumped in the water and pulled him onto the rescue sled attached to his ski. Bottello then held Trette's body in place on the sled while Ord raced to shore, where an EMT and another surfer skilled in CPR went to work on Trette. They continued until Firefighters arrived and managed to get a pulse.