Then in the final minute of the comp a sizey 8 wave set rolled through, with Kalani Champan taking off on a second reef roll and stalling for the inside double up. As the curtain fell on the inside, he just got clipped and disappeared from view and it was not until the commentators signed off, that it was clear something was wrong, as an aerial shot of Kalani getting rescued by the ski appeared on screen.
It has been reported since that Kalani didn’t come up from the wipeout and that his board was not tomb-stoning either. The water patrol, along with fellow competitors Nathan Florence and Seth Moniz responded immediately rushing over to Kalani, as he lay unconscious in the water
“The water patrol was right there, right on him,” Florence told Surfline, soon after the incident. “Seth had caught the wave before Kalani’s and I was paddling back out. A little wave came through and the lifeguard had to avoid it on the ski, but Seth was right there. He was screaming and waving his arms at me. I caught a little west bowl chip over to him and we started pulling Kalani up by his leash.”
The boys eventually managed to drag Kalani’s lifeless body onto the water safety ski and he was quickly driven back to the beach, where lifeguards began to try to resuscitate him.
“Everybody was yelling, ‘Come on, Kalani!’ You know, just screaming for him to make it,” recounts Florence. “He’s an icon here. He’s everybody’s best friend. It was really scary. It’s hard to say what happened for sure, but he had a huge hole in the back of his head and the nose of his board was broken. As we were bringing him into the beach, that’s what had me really worried — we had no idea how serious it was.”
Fellow charger Reef Macintosh, who arrived at the scene as lifeguards were still working on Kalani, said that it looked as though the nose of his board had hit him in the back of the head. “They got a pulse on him and were able to load him up into the ambulance.” he said. “The water patrol, Seth and Nathan saved his life.”
Once into the ambulance and receiving oxygen Kalani’s condition apparently began to improve, with Florence and JOB reporting that he was becoming much more coherent, as he set off for the hospital.
“Witnessing what happened to Kalani Chapman was heartbreaking and it shook everyone up,” Torrey Meister told Surfline. “Kalani is an icon and we all love him. If that can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. I’ve never been so thankful in my entire life when I saw him come back and breathe. At the end of the day, it’s all about making it to the beach safely. Kalani is my hero. Praying for a speedy recovery for him.”
We wish Kalani a speedy recovery and want to extend our praise at the level-headedness and proficiency of the surfers and lifeguards who saved yet another life on the beach yesterday, without them we could be telling a drastically different story.