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To promote beach safety, Big Island firefighter recounts his devastating bodysurfing injury

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:08 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Yurik Resetnikov grew up in Kona and was a 10-year veteran of the Hawaii County Fire Department.

On Oct. 12, 2015, his life changed forever.

He was bodysurfing at Sandy Beach Park when he caught a “really good wave.”

Despite being a skilled and experienced waterman, “I hit the bottom the wrong way and I broke my neck and I was instantly paralyzed underwater. I couldn’t come up for air.”

The waves didn’t let up.

“I felt another wave pick me up and slammed me down and I blacked out on that second wave,” Resetnikov said.

After the incident, friends brought him to shore and lifeguards performed CPR. What followed was months of intense rehab both in Hawaii and on the mainland.

“The first month and a half, I couldn’t move anything,” Resetnikov said.

“I couldn’t speak, couldn’t move any part of my body. To communicate, I had to blink on a letter card, like A through Z and they just go through each letter, you blink whatever word you want to spell.”

The father of two completely severed his spinal cord and while he can feel his thumbs, he’s paralyzed from the shoulders down.

For the last six years, he’s fought for every movement and found ways to stay active.

“I try to swim,” Resetnikov said. “I competed in the national wheelchair games for the VA in Orlando. I flew over there and competed in swimming events and shooting events.”

Resetnikov’s story is a cautionary tale that underscores the importance of reading the signs and knowing your abilities.

This Beach Safety Week, he wants to remind people about the importance of exercising caution in the water.

“Everything around my life is based on the ocean. I don’t like to lose and I felt beaten for awhile,” Resetnikov said. “So I need to get back in the ocean and surf again and I’m not losing.”

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