Stab Magazine | Dusty Payne Suffered A Broken Jaw And Fractured Skull From His Backdoor Slam

Dusty Payne Suffered A Broken Jaw And Fractured Skull From His Backdoor Slam

He’s expected to make a full recovery. 

Words by stab

The morning after a night of drinks is predictably awful. The morning after a face-first slam on the Backdoor reef is… we can’t even imagine.

As Dusty Payne woke up this morning, dealing with what must have been an otherworldly headache, Stab contacted Tom Carey to hear more about the incident and to get any updates from the Payne camp.

The rescue effort was extensive. Clip: Surf Slab

“I was swimming at Off The wall and saw the whole thing happen,” Tom carey tells Stab. “We saw the water angle, and he went backwards over his rails, got sucked over the falls and landed smack on his face. You can’t see it from the land angle, and I don’t think anyone wants to post the water angle, but we watched it and it’s a really ugly fall. I knew it right when I heard everyone start yelling, that it was Dusty. He’s so lucky. That wave is s fucking dangerous, especially at six-foot and shallow.”

“Keoki [Saguibo] spotted him and Uluboi and Mikey ‘Red’ [O’Shaughnessy] were right there to help grab him. He was hanging from his leash unconscious, spent three waves underwater. They got him above water, immediately braced his neck, everyone just snapped to. It was really impressive, just seeing the Brotherhood come together like that. You really feel it, in those moments, how important it is that everyone’s looking out for each other. Because if everything hadn’t happened exactly how it did, he easily could have died or been brain dead. So there’s good things to talk about.”

Carey Hawaii0676

Make no mistake — even paradisiacal waters can be merciless and cruel. But Dusty Payne isn’t one for negativity. 

“It’s crazy. The photographers save lives,” Tom continued. “We’re the first ones watching. When a guy goes down like that, they’re right inside us. It saved his life, Keoki yelling and calling everyone to action.”

“I swam in, just so scared I was going to see my friend dead on the beach. I was so worried and then he started yelling in pain, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!’  Just screaming at the lifeguards. They pumped a lot of water out his lungs, so he was choking on it.

“He’s going to be OK. He fractured his skull. Broke his jaw. Face smashed in. He was conscious and able to say people’s names. He’s trying not to take the drugs, he’s such a badass. He’s seen what pain meds do to people, and just keeps his distance. It’s crazy. Even with his back surgery, guy took one pain killer and tossed the rest. He’s one of the strongest guys I know.”

And Stab would have to agree. 

Thanks to everyone that was on-hand yesterday, and let this be a reminder of how crucial CPR and water-rescue courses are for anyone who calls themselves a “surfer.” If you haven’t already enrolled, let this be the moment that inspires you. Who knows, you might just end up saving a life someday. 


Get well soon, Dusty.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Dissecting the Heat (and Wave) that Blew Out John’s Knee

"It felt like he held back a little bit on that one" - Ronnie Blakey

May 7, 2021

Here’s How The Greatest Surfer Of All Time Can Become An Olympian This Year

Head Coach of the USA Olympic Surf Team, Brett Simpson, breaks it down.

May 7, 2021

John Florence Is on His Way Home from West Oz with an Injured Knee

What does this mean for the World Title Race? And the Olympics?

May 7, 2021

A 19-Year-Old Kiwi We’re Adding To The List

Caleb Cutmore joins catalog of talented underground surfers.

May 7, 2021

An Idea That Could Improve The Waves—And The Crowd Situation—At Malibu

Why aren't we working with nature to design better waves?

May 7, 2021

The 2021 Stab Rich List, Part 2

Wanna know how much a world champ gets paid?

May 7, 2021

Now… This: Challenging Dylan Graves To A Fist Fight

The weird wave enthusiast answers with a yellow belt in taekwando.

May 6, 2021

Surprise, The Comp Is On!

Gabby melts and Steph hits top form as the draw whittles down to the final…

May 6, 2021

The 2021 Stab Rich List, Part 1

Welcome to the most wild year of pro surfing contracts on record.

May 6, 2021

‘Wilson’s Foam and Rubber’ Documents Chippa’s Saline/Petroleum Love Affair

Shot entirely on GoPro HERO9 Black.

May 5, 2021

Dylan Graves’ Weird Waves Shines A Light On The World Of Night Surfing

Season 3, here we go.

May 5, 2021

What Are The Most Stylish Boardshorts of 2021?

Have your say, here.

May 5, 2021

Introducing John John’s Pick for the World’s Best Junior

Luke Swanson is not a soccer player.

May 4, 2021

Can Anyone Stop Carissa?

Maybe, probably not. Highlights Day 3 at Margaret River.

May 4, 2021


Cognitive Awareness During A Strong Pulse In Brazil

Yago Dora, Miguel Pupo, and more star in 'Symbolic Amplification'.

May 4, 2021

The Australian Government Is Now Funding Surf Trips

Inside the program designed to return the nation to its former competitive glory.

May 3, 2021

Margaret River Main Break Re-asserts itself as a Valid CT Stop

"These are the kinds of days we live for." - Jeremy Flores

May 3, 2021

Click Or Miss: I Hate All Vlogs Equally

Zack gets the day off, whiny junior editor gets a new assignment.

May 3, 2021