By Cash Lambert

Eyeing his own Wave of the Winter this morning at Backdoor, Maui’s Dusty Payne paddled for a 4-5 foot wave but didn’t land the drop. What happened next was nearly tragic. 

“He spun in underneath and couldn’t set his rail,” said Freesurf Staff Photographer Keoki Saguibo, who was shooting from the channel. “His board slipped out from under him, he went over the handlebars and went headfirst to penetrate the wave. It was a typical Dusty move, [charging] one of the gnarliest Backdoor waves.”

Keoki said that after two or three sets had passed, he noticed Dusty’s board tombstoning and going flat, a tell all sign that something was wrong — Dusty was unconscious underwater. 

“Usually when a wipeout like that happens and there’s no sign of struggle, that person is definitely unconscious,” Keoki said. “It was enough to trigger the alarm. I knew something was wrong, so I yelled my head off and swam as fast as I could. I got to him and so did Ulu boy. It all happened so fast, next thing you know there were 4 or 5 surfers helping out.”

“I was paddling out and saw [Dusty’s wipeout],” Ulu boy said. “I knew that was a bad place to fall, and I was looking and looking once Keoki yelled, I beelined towards them. I caught a wave and it took me right to Dusty. I pulled on his leash, swam down, grabbed him and straddled his legs around my waist. Keoki, who was keeping his neck straight, kept saying “we got you, it’s going to be ok” and that calmed me down. Once we got to the beach, everyone was there and we let the lifeguards, the professionals, do their job.”

After being resuscitated on the beach, Dusty was rushed to a hospital, where he’s reportedly in stable condition.

Stay tuned for updates on the story.

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