The Hawaiian surfing pipeline has one of the most dangerous surfs in the United States, which makes it tempting for daredevils across the world to try to get ahold of the waves.
Brazilian pro surfer João Chianca nearly gave his life for it over the weekend.
Chianca, who is ranked No. 4 in the World Surf League and finished fourth in September’s World Surf League Finals, nearly died Sunday in the waters off Honolulu, where he took a serious wipeout and was left unconscious.
The 23-year-old bailed out of a wave and pin-dropped into the water. He hit his head either on the ground or on his board, according to Surfline. As he was knocked unconscious, more waves toppled over him.
“I saw it happen and had a weird feeling that where and how he fell was wrong,” Jake Maki, who was watching Chianca from afar, told Surfline. “There was a lot of carnage, boards breaking, leashes popping — from both that set and the one before it — so it was hard to identify where João was. I didn’t see him pop up, then I saw his board but was tombstoning, like he was still dragging it from underwater.”
Surfers and lifeguards rushed into the waters to help Chianca, according to Hawaii News Now.
“There was actually three more waves that he got on the head, and he was underneath water,” Honolulu Ocean Safety Lifeguard Ian Bachmann told the station. “In that moment, things happened so quick, but when we saw his body floating there, we thought we got to get to him as fast as possible.”
Kala Grace was among the surfers who were shaken up over the incident.
“It was gnarly. I walked straight up, took my leash off, and I was done surfing,” he said. “I saw him laying there completely purple out cold and all the lifeguards around, and all I could see lying on the board was just me because that was just me in January.”
Chianca was described as being “completely purple” when he was pulled out of the water. He expelled the liquid from his body as lifeguards performed chest compressions on him. He was given oxygen and steadily regained his consciousness, Surfline reported.
He is reportedly in stable condition.
Chianca won the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro earlier this year. He is also sponsored by Volcom and Red Bull.