Dramatic Rescue After Pro-Surfer Goes Under at Deadly Spot

Body-boarder Andre Botha pulled unconscious man to surface
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2015 11:53 AM CST

(Newser) – Florida pro surfer Evan Geiselman, 22, was riding a 20-foot wave at Hawaii's Pipeline—one of the world's deadliest surfing spots—on Sunday when he disappeared as the lip curled over him. The Pipeline off Oahu's North Shore delivers breakers that can force a surfer underwater until he drowns, and for several moments, there was no sign of Geiselman on the surface, reports the Washington Post. Then a video shot from shore catches two surfboards bobbing in foam. A man suddenly appears, followed by the head of another. "That's Andre saving him," says a witness. South African body-boarder Andre Botha tells the AP he paddled toward Geiselman as he fell off the wave and found him trapped underwater by ensuing waves, unconscious. He pulled him to the surface. "The first thing that went through my mind at that point was that he was dead," Botha tells CBS News. "His face was a dark blue, almost purple."

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The video shows Botha trying to resuscitate Geiselman as he fights to reach shore. Others, including champion surfer Mick Fanning, eventually come to his aid, per the Inertia. "With all oncoming waves crashing he was just able to hold onto the surfer's body and help until we got there," a lifeguard says. "It was amazing." Geiselman was taken to a hospital in critical condition but has since been released. "Everyone who was there and saw the whole thing knows that Botha is a hero and the only reason Geiselman is alive," a witness says, per Independent Online. "Andre, he was truly Evan's guardian angel," adds Geiselman's brother. Says Botha: "I did what I had to do ... It is a code of honor between those who risk their lives in the ocean." (These surfers just broke a world record.)

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