"Bondi Rescue" lifeguard breaks neck in surfing wipeout

Sun May 30, 2010 11:02pm EDT
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australian lifeguard Kobi Graham, one of the stars of the hit television series "Bondi Rescue," broke his neck after wiping out on a large wave at a dangerous Sydney surf spot.

The 30-year-old lifeguard suffered "a hideous wipe out" at Cape Solander on Sunday, hitting the reef head first, local surf media website Coastalwatch (www.coastalwatch.com) said on Monday.

Coastalwatch posted photographs of the wipeout, showing Graham only moments before being thrown onto the reef and later of him being helicoptered to hospital, his neck in a brace.

Cape Solander near the entrance to Botany Bay is one of the world's most dangerous surf breaks.

"The wave comes out of deep water before literally exploding on a shallow barnacle encrusted rock ledge no more than 10 meters (30 feet) in front of the sheer cliff face," said Coastalwatch editor Ben Horvath.

"Sunday was one of the biggest days of surf in Sydney all year. Kobi took off on a slabbing 6-8 feet bomb and kind of nose dived, free falling head first into the reef," said Horvath.

"Kobi is a well respected big wave charger. The entire Sydney surfing community and all his colleagues in the surf lifesaving fraternity wish him a speedy recovery."

Graham is in a stable condition in hospital.

"Bondi Rescue" is a fly-on-the-wall look at lifeguards at Australia's most famous beach that shows Graham and his colleagues rescuing swimmers. Now in its fifth season, the show has become an international TV hit.

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)