The surfing world got a stark reminder of the sport's dangers this week when one of its top athletes broke his neck in four places off California's Central Coast, reports the Surfer Today blog. Shawn Dollar ran into trouble Monday among 25-foot waves in Big Sur and hit his head on a rock, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Dollar, who also suffered a concussion, remains hospitalized but said in a statement that doctors predict a full recovery. "I'm so thankful I'm alive and present today," he said. "I will be back in no time." Dollar, who holds the world record for paddling into a 61-foot monster wave, made his name on a 55-foot wave during the 2010 annual Mavericks surfing competition—at which he wasn't even an official entrant.
"With four breaks in his neck, he got really lucky that he didn’t sever his spinal cord," fellow surfer Darryl "Flea" Virostko tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was a bit of a miracle for Mr. Dollar." The Chronicle recollects a 2013 interview with Dollar, who has two kids, after the death of surfer Sion Milosky in the 2011 Mavericks competition. Dollar had been in the water next to Miloski when his friend caught the fatal wave. “My son was born just three days later, and I was still in shock,” he said. The death "made me totally aware of the cost. And now I think about drowning every single day. That’s why I’m so focused on safety. Because when the day comes, I’m going to go on the heavy waves." (This surfer made headlines for fending off a shark with a punch.)