Puerto Escondido is not a place to be trifled with. Jamie Mitchell–a man who is part of a very small group of people who can actually call themselves watermen with no sense of irony–already knew that, but he had a very stern reminder yesterday. After pulling into a Puerto closeout, Mitchell’s board smashed him in the chest and broke his sternum.
Mitchell has a long list of accolades: he’s won the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championship ten times, the ISA SUP Distance World Championships twice, and is a standout in basically anything related to water and waves.
The wave that took him out wasn’t one of those death-defying Puerto barrels–not to Mitchell, anyway. He explained the terrifying ordeal to Surfline’s Dashel Pierson. “I took a six-footer, which looked like it was going to travel a bit,” he said. “I pulled in and the thing collapsed. As I was getting blown off, the board slingshot right into my sternum. It hit me like a truck. The force of the board was like some 500-pound dude hitting you in the chest. Took the wind right out of me. Underwater, I could feel a big indent in my chest. And when I came up, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t yell for help, I couldn’t reach my arms above my head.”
Mitchell spent the next few minutes struggling to get himself to shore. Soon, though, lifeguards reached him and put him in the ambulance. There, doctors x-rayed his chest and broke the news about his fractured sternum. Mitchell is now heading back to Los Angeles to begin the rehab process, and with any luck, he’ll be back in the water sooner rather than later.