Durban surfer rescues pro in Hawaii
Durban - A Durban surfer has been captured on video rescuing and keeping afloat an unconscious surfer who had been hit by a massive wave on the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.
Andre Stephen Botha, 34, reacted quickly while in the surf when he spotted American pro surfer Evan Geiselman being wiped out by a wave on Sunday.
Zig Zag surfing magazine reported that Botha, a two-time professional body boarding world champion, reached Geiselman in the wave impact zone.
Geiselman was unconscious. Botha paddled him to the beach while trying to resuscitate him.
The magazine reported that Botha was met by lifeguards in the shore break, who took over and resuscitated Geiselman, before taking him to hospital.
Surfer Aaron Pasoquen said on Twitter that as he was swimming out, he saw Botha taking a huge right-breaking wave “and aired it out”. This put Botha in the perfect position for what was about to happen. Next Geiselman took off on a “left bomb” that closed out.
“He was held under for a few waves and the next thing I know I see what looks like Botha fighting Geiselman. It took me a second to realise, but Botha had actually swum over and pulled Geiselman to the surface.
“Botha held him at the surface and got started giving rescue breaths and a few chest compressions while pulling him in. I was trying to race to help but was caught just out of reach. Botha performed the water rescue on his own, all the way from Pipeline to the sand at Ehukai,” Pasoquen tweeted.
“Evan was unresponsive upon reaching the sand and after only a few minutes the life guards were able to bring him back and assist him until the fire department and ambulance arrived.
“Everyone who was there and saw the whole thing knows that Botha is a hero and the only reason Geiselman is alive and in a stable condition right now. The best part to see, aside from Geiselman waking up, was how humble Botha was in the process and continues to act like he didn’t do much,” Pasoquen tweeted.
Geiselman’s brother, Eric, thanked everyone for their response.
“Andre, he was truly Evan’s guardian angel. Our family cannot thank them enough. Today we are very blessed to still have Evan with us,” he said.
Globe surf team manager, Eric Tomlinson, said on the Inertia website that Geiselman was engulfed by a 15-foot “double-up”. He failed to come to the surface and subsequently suffered a three-wave hold down.
This morning on Facebook Botha said it was “overwhelming” to be called a hero.
“I was in the right place at the right time and I did what I had to do. Life can do this to us and put us in these situations. I’m sure any other professional wave rider would have done the same thing, it is a code of honour between those who risk their lives in the ocean.”
He apologised for not replying to messages, saying he had spent the rest of the day in the sea.
“I really didn’t know what to do with myself and riding waves was the best way I could clear my head.”
Andre’s brother, Marck Botha, also from Durban North, said his brother spent four to five months a year in Hawaii at this time of the year for the surfing season.
He spent the rest of the year between Durban and Cape Town looking for waves.
“They were not competing at the time of the incident. They were free surfing. It was only Andre’s third day there,” Marck said.
“He learnt about the ocean in Durban. He did nippers early and when we were younger we were always missioning up and down the Durban coast looking for waves.”
Andre learnt cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures from his father, Doctor Andre Botha sr, who has a paediatric practice at Westville Hospital.
“Andre told me he could recall procedures my dad had taught him. Andre seemed stunned. He had a few snacks and went back into the water,” Marck said.
Botha jr attended Virginia Primary School and Northwood High School before he started home school and travelling the world body boarding.
He was youngest body boarder world champion at age 17.
“I feel a lot safer in the water when my brother is around.
“I can tell just from the amount of footage he has in his first three days on the North Shore that he is a bit abnormal, but in the best way. I am super proud and glad to call him my brother and glad he was there to save the day,” Marck said.
The Banzai Pipeline, or simply “Pipeline”, off O’ahu’s North Shore, is known for huge waves breaking in shallow water, which allows surfers to tube ride.