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Hawaii family sues maker of electric hydrofoil surfboard over youth surf champion’s injury

A Big Island family is suing the maker of an electronic hydrofoil surfboard after an accident left a champion youth surfer permanently disfigured.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 3:58 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 4:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Big Island family is suing the maker of an electronic hydrofoil surfboard after an accident left a champion youth surfer permanently disfigured.

The lawsuit claims the 10-year-old’s thumb was severed after it became lodged in the board’s propeller. The boy was airlifted to Pali Momi on Oahu for surgery but his thumb could not be saved.

A camera captured the moment it all happened. It was Oct. 24 in waters off Kailua-Kona, and the boy’s first time on the WeFoil electronic hydrofoil surfboard.

“Within literally seconds of him riding this e-foil the board did something weird,” said lawyer Jeffrey Foster. “He fell off and tragically he lost his thumb on his dominate hand due to this exposed propeller.”

It’s an injury the attorney says changed the 10-year-old’s life forever.

Foster says, “He said, ‘I don’t want this to happen to any other kid.’”

The young surfer recently won the NSSA West Coast Regional Championships but was forced to withdraw from the national competition while his hand heals.

“One thing that’s important to know is that these boards are marketed as safe for kids, safe for the elderly, safe for everyone,” Foster said.

It’s a claim the child’s family disputes.

Malia Lins Costa, the boy’s mother, said her son is a junior-professional sponsored surfer.

“If he can fall and suffer the loss of a limb, anyone can,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges the board’s exposed propeller poses a significant risk of injury to everyone who rides them. That’s not all.

“There doesn’t appear to be any mechanism on the board that causes the board to stop operating,” Foster said. “If it did, if the propeller stopped moving at the time that he fell he wouldn’t have gone through this horrific incident.”

The family is asking for an immediate recall of the WeFoil Board and other boards like it. They’re also calling on government to enact safety regulations to prevent others from getting hurt.

“It’s important to say that it’s not just this company that sells this board with this particular exposed propeller,” Foster said. “From what we’ve gathered it’s an industry wide issue.”

HNN reached out to officials at WeFoil multiple times this week to give the company an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit. So far, no one has responded to those inquiries.

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