Lifeguards call bodyboarder's rescue of pro surfer 'amazing'

Lifeguards call bodyboarder's rescue of pro surfer 'amazing'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A professional surfer from Florida is recovering after nearly drowning at Pipeline on Sunday.

Evan Geiselman, 22, is at the Queen's Medical Center following the life-threatening wipeout.

Two-time world bodyboarding champion Andre Botha of South Africa was in the water and raced over to help when Geiselman failed to resurface.

Botha said once he reached Geiselman's surfboard, he pulled the surfer's head out from under the water.

"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 gave the unconscious surfer rescue breaths while trying to swim to shore in the pounding waves. He said they became separated once in the churning ocean. Ocean Safety officials estimate that the pair drifted about 300 yards before other pro 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 Capt. Vitor Marcal of the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

Botha said staying afloat with 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 regained consciousness once on shore. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital in critical condition.

His brother, Eric, posted a message and photo Monday morning showing the surfer flashing a shaka from his hospital bed.

Eric Geiselman thanked Botha and other rescuers.

"Words can not describe how thankful I am for everyone coming together and acting so quickly. We had guardian angels yesterday!"

But Botha said anyone would have done what he did.

"From my point of view, I was just the right person at the right place at the right time," he said. "There are so many people that are saving lives every day that don't really get the recognition that they deserve."

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