Kelly Slater Saves Big Wave Champion Russell Bierke's Life

21 Apr 2017 4

Russell Bierke descending Jaws in 2015, Photo by Shige.

Russell Bierke descending Jaws in 2015, Photo by Shige.

COASTALWATCH | LATEST NEWS

Not only is he one of the greatest athletes of all time, but also a continual life saver – literally. Just a year after he rescued Aussie photographer's toddler from a wave surge in Hawaii, 11 x World Champion surfer Kelly Slater has come to the aid of 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear big wave champ Russell Bierke

19-year-old Bierke of Ulladulla, was out on a dawn patrol big wave mission on Wednesday morning in Victoria with fellow swell chasers Tom Carroll, Ross Clarke-Jones, Ryan Hipwood and Ben Serrano as well as Kelly Slater who was knocked out of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Event. 

The professional big wave surfers were out with local crew as the sun rose over the rugged coastline and the forecast of clean 15-20 foot waves began to pulse. Each were towed into the incredibly long lines down the point before some began paddling in. 

Bierke commented to the Herald Sun, “The conditions don’t come together like that very often. They were really big and there were light winds and it was really sunny and it was nice and warm.

We were all having a lot of fun. It was nice and clean and big. It was pretty much what we came for. That was my last wave. I remember saying to the boys I want to go in. I was tired and hungry and wanted to get some food."

It was that wave that nearly took the life of Bierke. Ryan 'Hippo' Hipwood was sitting in the channel on his ski and watched the board hit Bierke in the chin before taking him down. His board resurfaced but it wasn't until the sets ran through that the skis could provide any assistance. Serrano and Slater got to Bierke within the minute before returning him to shore unconscious. 

Back on land Slater quickly coordinated locals to assist with the first aid and ensure paramedics were fast to the scene. 

Bierke was transferred to Warrnambool Hospital where he remains in a stable condition, under observation. It is reported that he has no recollection of the 'freak accident' but that he took in a lot of water in the hold down and a laceration across his jawline.

Sitting up with his spirits high Bierke said “I’ve surfed a lot bigger and a lot more dangerous waves than yesterday... I’ve broken my foot and done a few little things but nothing like this." 

Bierke will remain in hospital under observation until doctors are satisfied he is clear from infection, but you betcha he'll be back out there as soon as he's given the all-clear. 

*VIDEO BELOW, Russell Bierke in BEZERKE by Andrew Kaineder


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