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Head injuries are a bitch. Nothing is more scary to an athlete–or an athlete’s family–than the prospect of looking down the pipe at life-altering neurological damage from an intense hit to the noggin. And that’s why Dusty Payne’s recent Instagram post was so encouraging.

Last month I wrote about Payne’s gnarly accident at Pipe where he fell trying to make a drop at the dangerous North Shore wave. I’ve always been a fan of the Maui native’s aggressive, ultra-powerful style but this time it might have hindered him: taking off on an incredibly-late drop, Payne didn’t make it and was shoved down hard, slamming his head mercilessly into the reef. Some five waves passed as he was underwater before surfers nearby noticed he wasn’t resurfacing. “Very scary stuff as he was unconscious for over 2.5 minutes,” family-friend Matty Schweitzer told me at the time. Payne broke bones in his face and jaw and knocked out teeth, spending more than two weeks in the ICU at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

Payne is typical of the Maui-born surfer I’ve come to know: hard-charging, gifted, and humble as hell. In his post, he thanked the people who rescued him, paying a special thanks to the North Shore Lifeguards who were there to save him that day.  “A lot of people have asked me how they can help/what they can do,” he wrote. “My family and I have created a GoFundMe account to which 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to supporting the @northshorelifeguardassociation. More funds are needed for these guys…”

No one can argue in the truth of that statement from Mr. Payne. The 29-year-old also said that he looks forward to getting back and doing what he loves, which is basically ripping (see the full post, below). I reached out to Payne through his family but he’s understandably not doing much in the way of interviews yet. He did, however, speak to the mental impact of his near-death accident: “This has been a surreal and life-altering experience for me.”

Donate to the North Shore Lifeguards, here.

It’s hard to even start this and put it all into words..Let me start by expressing my deepest gratitude and thanks to @photokeoki , @uluboi , @_mikey_redd, @tai_vandyke and @northshorelifeguardassociation for saving my life🙏🏽… without these God sent angels, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today. I am overwhelmed, humbled and so grateful for the outpouring of love, prayers, support, cards, and messages that have been sent from all over the world. All of the positive support from everyones messages has helped me get better everyday…I’m so grateful to be alive and finally back home on Maui to continue my healing and start rehabbing… ————————————————— This has been a surreal and life altering experience for me. I don’t remember the day of the accident or really any of the 2-1/2 weeks in ICU.. My head is still pretty scrambled, but I know I’m blessed to be here and just need time to heal. I know things could’ve turned out way different without the help that came to me as quickly as it did. I’m thankful for the ICU doctors and nurses at Queens and the surgeons who put me back together. Especially grateful for my family for being with me every step of the way. ———————————————— A lot of people have asked me how they can help/what they can do… my family and I have created a Go Fund Me account (link is in my bio) to which 100% of the proceeds will go directly to supporting the @northshorelifeguardassociation. More funds are needed for these guys to be able to offer more training in proper CPR, water extraction and first aid. These heroes put their lives at risk everyday for the publics safety, and unfortunately they don’t really get the support and recognition they deserve. ———————————————— Thank you again to everyone who played a role in saving my life. I can’t wait to get back in the water and back to doing what I love 🌊🙏🏽🤙🏽

A post shared by Dusty Payne (@dusty_payne) on



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