Kala Grace In Dramatic Rescue While Competing In Backdoor Shootout

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

Yesterday, Pipeline again showed how dangerous it can be, but also how deceiving it can be.

At 1:45, 24-year old Kala Grace who caught the wave of the day two days back, pulled into a closeout at Pipeline. That wave, however, wasn't the one that injured Grace, though it did rip his helmet off. Still, Grace surfaced quickly afterwards, reeled in his board, and went to duckdive the rest of the set.

Facing the whitewash without a helmet, the next wave, already broken, drove Grace into the bottom.

Video footage shows events unfolding though it's hard to follow as three surfers left the beach to paddle out just before Grace took off, then Grace himself appeared to be OK, while his helmet floats loosely giving the impression of another surfer stricken in the whitewash.

Water patrol, however, acted immediately. Replay footage begins at 5:44:30.

Grace was brought to shore unconcious where lifeguards performed at least one round of cardio pulmonary resuscitation. After this, he began to breathe before being placed on advanced life support and transported to Queens Medical Center, Waikiki.

Grace's father, Willie Grace, told Hawaii News Now: ' [Kala] probably bounced off the reef, he had a big scar right above his eye and right below. He was kind of purple when they brought him in.”

"Kala's helmet came off on a big wave, and the next wave slammed him under cracking his head open above his left eye." 

Billy Kemper was one of Grace's first responders and was thanked by Willie Grace. Kemper also injured himself at the Backdoor Shootout. Makua Rothman went to hospital with a torn MCL.

Comments

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 7:35am

That’s brutal.. hopefully they are ok

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:00am

So hectic. Amazing work by the water patrol. Was pretty rattling watching live. I don't think he's out of the woods yet. Sending best energy his way.

peabo's picture
peabo's picture
peabo Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:19am

That's a big thick lip to get on the head. Hope he's OK.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:24am

It was actually the wave before the one in the insta post, after his closeout that got him.

Let's hope he makes a full recovery.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:26am
Jelly Flater's picture
Jelly Flater's picture
Jelly Flater Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:36am

Rescue footage…

https://m.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 9:50am

Thats goodish news. Cheers Jono

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 9:01am

So he’s tried to do the right thing by wearing a helmet, the wave he caught has ripped the helmet off, then the next wave that smashed his head into the reef happens when he’s lost his helmet?

How unlucky can you get.
Although not sure if a helmet would of helped in this situation if he was hit in the eye area.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:15am

That's the thing, hey. So deceptive. He'd just pulled into an 8ft closeout, and you'd think that's where the injury might happen, except it was while duckdiving the next wave.

Happened right in front of cameras, drones, commentators, spectators, but I don't think anyone suspected anything at the time.

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 9:01am

That was a hectic set - he was stuck in the awful spot where you are not sure if you should scratch to get under the next one or stick where you are and hope it bounces over you.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 12:48pm

Exactly, it was right in that horrible spot where it rolls at it's heaviest. You get surprise floggings like that on 3ft beachies, I can't imagine what it's like at Pipe!

shraz's picture
shraz's picture
shraz Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 9:42am

Oh man! If you look closely you can see some ledge sucking dry after the 2nd wave. He then paddles over towards it and looks to dive right on it. Hope he pulls through ok.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:05am

It’s hard to watch that footage. He was under for a long time

Anyone on here surfed pipe when it’s like that? I’d love to know how shallow it would’ve been where he duck dived the wave that ko’d him.

shraz's picture
shraz's picture
shraz Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:18am

Zero, you can see reef with water draining off it in the overhead footage.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:03am

Awful stuff.

Can't really fathom what it's like to surf a wave of that intensity all the time, with such a high risk factor. I wonder how many decide the risk just isn't worth it for them anymore.

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:07am

The inside at Pipe looks so hectic. Well done to the rescue crew.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:19am

Cheers Jono for the update .. fingers crossed for him

t-diddy's picture
t-diddy's picture
t-diddy Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 1:30pm

such a heavy wave to be wearing a helmet, have it ripped off and straight away get knocked unconscious

mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 1:34pm

brutal, hope he makes a full recovery

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 1:42pm

Same here. What type of helmet was it? Pretty rare to have the clasp or chinstrap break but ....were are talking Pipeline

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 1:46pm

It happened a bunch of times that day too, perhaps not on tight enough?

mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard's picture
mike oxhard Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 2:04pm

not sure man, could only speculate, the speed of the water draining off the reef + the power of the wave makes a pretty intense impact zone

BarbB's picture
BarbB's picture
BarbB Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 2:32pm

.....

Burgess's picture
Burgess's picture
Burgess Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 8:27pm

Yes, pipeline is next level, photos and videos really don't do it justice. I travelled there around 2017, mid February. Consistent 6-10ft swells from the north mainly, favouring OTW and Backdoor. What was absolutely amazing was the inside of pipe, right off the beach- it was like a river, straight into thick 6ft stationarys at Gums. Seeing crew tackle big thick days OTW was mind blowing. I've spent plenty of time in the ocean, over 35 years, and I wanted nothing to do with the Pipe-Keiki stretch, it's for the elite. Big highlight was scoring relatively uncrowded Velzys, staying on Sunset Point we noticed a subtle wind change late arvo, flew down on the pushies, paddled out super quite and slowly got some crackers. The whole place has a different aura/feeling. Speedy recovery for Kala hopefully, and props to the crew that paddle out there..

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 9:03pm

Not what you want to see happen. Here's to a good outcome.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 2:21pm

Positive signs there!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 2:52pm

Really good to hear he is breathing fine now.

Must have been a lot of saltwater in those lungs.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 2:56pm

And Sand.

seeds's picture
seeds's picture
seeds Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 10:43pm

How do they get that out? Vacuum I guess. Wonder what that feels like before during and after?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 10:54pm

Saline then suction - Saline then suction

seeds's picture
seeds's picture
seeds Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 11:14pm

Under GA I guess

Matb's picture
Matb's picture
Matb Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 8:18pm

The boys on jet skis are incredible

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 8:21pm

Great news... Here's to a speedy recovery.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 10:37pm

Man that's insane news. Was seriously touch and go for a while there by the sound of it. Great interview with Mike and Mason Ho on Aint That Swell a day or so after the accident. Some pretty real emotions spilling out of them. Can only imagine how much it rattled the surf community over there. Well worth a listen.
...Pipe. What a wave.

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 12:58pm

Thanks for sharing BD, great to hear Mike Ho talk about it...wow 65!

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 11:36am

Rest up kala.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 1:14pm

Pipe heat Draws announced for start of CT in 10 days.

Wonder if that day and the injuries will influence calls to run.

Lots of young rookies in Womens draw and not many competitors with a full, experienced skill set.
Most notably current and 8 time World Champion Steph Gilmore.

Will they send Steph out in full throttle 8-10ft Pipe?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 7:33pm
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 7:48pm

Thanks for sharing that, Udo.

Lucky fella, and he obviously knows it. Go well, young man!

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 9:25pm

And the gofundme has another $65k or so.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 23 Jan 2023 at 9:58pm

Glad to hear he is ok .. very grateful for the rescue team .. one lucky boy

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 23 Jan 2023 at 9:58pm

Glad to hear he is ok .. very grateful for the rescue team .. one lucky boy

Yuri's picture
Yuri's picture
Yuri Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 10:20am