Big wave surfer Shawn Dollar breaks neck off California coast

Wed Sep 9, 2015 6:20pm EDT
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Top big-wave surfer Shawn Dollar has broken his neck while surfing in dangerous conditions off the central coast of California and remained hospitalized on Wednesday, his management company said.

Dollar, who holds the world record for the largest wave ever paddled into, was in stable condition after breaking his neck in four places on Monday, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the Titans of Mavericks surf contest.

"I'm so thankful I'm alive and present today. Being surrounded by my loved ones through this time has been paramount for me," Dollar said in the statement.

"I'm so grateful for those who where there in my scariest and darkest hour and who acted on my behalf to get me to safety and reach the hospital in time," he said. "I'm thankful to learn that even with these severe injuries I will make a full recovery."

The 34-year-old father of two was cared for by surfers and then rushed to a hospital emergency room, where he remains in stable condition, Titans of Maverick's said. Website reported he was not paralyzed from the injuries.

According to the statement "a strong south swell reportedly produced strong waves with unfavorable mixed conditions" that put the pro surfer "in a critical scenario that caused him to act accordingly to protect himself."

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Dollar struck his head on a rock.

"He got really lucky, as lucky as the doctors have seen," big wave surfer Darryl "Flea" Virostko told the paper.   Continued...

Shawn Dollar of the U.S. rides in a barrel during the final round of the Mavericks Invitational surfing competition in Half Moon Bay, California in this January 20, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files