Hawaii officials are crediting a South African man with saving the life of a professional surfer who almost drowned after a wipe-out.
Two-time world bodyboarding champion Andre Botha found the surfer, Evan Geiselman, unconscious in the water off Oahu’s Ehukai Beach on Sunday morning, Hawaii News Now reported.
“His face was a dark blue, almost purple. He was foaming at the mouth. His eyes were rolled back and his body was completely limp,” Botha said. “The first thing that went through my mind at that point was that he was dead.”
Botha attempted to resuscitate Geiselman while trying to swim to shore. Safety officials estimate that the pair travelled about 300m before other surfers and lifeguards reached them.
“All the oncoming waves crashing on him, he was able to just hold on to that surfer’s body and help until we got there and got to him. It was amazing,” said Captain Vitor Marcal of the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.
Botha said that staying afloat while clinging to the 22-year-old Geiselman took a “huge amount of energy”.
“I don’t think I’ve ever expended that amount of energy in that short amount of time ever,” he said.
Geiselman eventually regained consciousness after he was brought to shore. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Geiselman’s brother, Eric, took to social media Monday to thank Botha and other rescuers.
“Words cannot describe how thankful I am for everyone coming together and acting so quickly,” Eric Geiselman said in a post on Instagram that showed a picture of his brother in his hospital bed. “We had guardian angels yesterday!”