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.


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