Stab Magazine | Graphic: "The Board Had Speared Into My Brain"

Graphic: “The Board Had Speared Into My Brain”

“[The doctor] firmly told me that I’m very very lucky to be alive, if it was 2mm lower I would have been dead.”

news // Jun 21, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Most of us surfers consider Gath helmets to be ‘overkill’, but young Corey Kerr might be changing his mind after an incident earlier this year. What started as a post-school shred, quickly turned into brain surgery, a titanium plate replacement and a fortnight long stint in hospital. 

Oh, and just a small warning to the squeamish types, the images below are graphic; but we assure you, Corey, the gent depicted, survived and is on his way to a full recovery.

As most school kids on the Central Coast do, Corey whipped off for an early morning surf before having to bolt to his first period class with salty eyebrows and a surf focused mind. 

“The whole day at school I was just keen to get back out and surf, I sat at the back of the class checking the surf cam and watching dudes like Owen Wright, Andy Irons and Tom Carroll charging during class. When school finished I skated down to surf and it was still good.” Corey told Stab. 

And as you can imagine any burnt out studying grom would be, he was straight back out there. 

Terrigal Haven is fickle and elusive at the best of times, it’s no surprise Corey was stinging for second surf.

Terrigal Haven, where the incident happened, isn’t a particularly user friendly wave, but it’s not a spot you envision sending you to hospital for surgery either.

“I caught my first wave of the arvo pretty quickly, it was good size set and ran down the line letting me get a few turns off. I kicked off, started paddling back out, then paddled for a fun looking insider, but I couldn’t quite get on it.” Corey continued. 

It wasn’t a rogue set that sent Corey to the ER, it was his “goofy-foot” mate, Will.

“I turned around and saw Will on a wave, it was a bumpy one with around 5-6 steps in it, he made it down 2-3 but his fins started sliding out and I was only about 5-metres away. I knew he was going to hit me, so I tried to block the impact with my board and the next thing I remember is just this massing bang!

Well, at least this will get you a few days off school.

Everything was black, I couldn’t see, my ears were ringing and there was a sharp pain in the side of my head. I tried to grab my board and looked around and there was blood everywhere; that’s when I felt the side of my head.

“I thought it was my ear ripped off at first and then two blokes came rushing up to me. They asked if I was alright, and I replied, ‘is my ear ripped off?’, he said ‘no, you have the nose of Will’s board in your head’. I was pretty confused and shocked, I kept thinking about these two sharks I saw the day before too. 

“Will just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry bro, I’m so sorry!’. He gave me a lift home and then my Dad drove me straight to hospital.”

Not even one of those 90’s noseguards would’ve stopped this. 

As you can imagine, the nurses were shocked; a surfboard sticking out of someone’s head is a little more grasping that the flurry of broken arms and legs they’re usually littered with. 

“They got the board out of my head relatively quickly and then immediately sent me for a CT scan.

“I fractured my skull, had both bleeding and bruising on my brain where the board broke through my skull. He also told me the board skimmed a major artery, and if it was 2mm lower I would’ve bled out and died.

“They transferred me straight to Royal North Shore for emergency brain surgery.”

Head injuries in surfing aren’t uncommon, but head injuries of this magnitude and graphic nature are. Thankfully, Corey is alright – well as good as you can be after copping a board to the brain – and on his way to a full recovery.

He’s even ignoring doctor’s orders to stay out of the water for the remainder of the year!

A slightly less gruesome, but more telling image of the internal damage sustained.

“They put a titanium plate in my head and I spent a few weeks in hospital recovering afterwards. Once I returned home they said to stay out of the water for a year. After two months of been at home I went out and surfered a little 2-foot rip bowl at Wamberal, I felt super ill though and went in. I persisted though the next day and everything’s felt mostly okay since.”

And when we asked Corey whether he’d learnt any lessons, the natural footer had this to say:

“Stay away from goofy-footers and treat every wave like its your last.”

A man wise beyond his years, everyone knows those screw-foots are nothing but trouble. 

We’re glad to see that Corey’s on the mend and eager to get back in the water again – although ignoring doctor’s orders might not be entirely wise. 


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