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The Inertia

Jamie O’Brien surfs some of the most dangerous waves in the world. He does it so well that he makes it look easy—but he’s been dealt some serious lickings in the process. Both legs have been busted by Pipe’s infamous reef, for example. Now he’s got a bit of new hardware holding his scalp together.

It wasn’t a giant day: Pipeline, four-to-six feet. Big enough to inflict some serious damage, though. “Beautiful, typical Hawaii,” O’Brien said. “This is what people dream about.”

O’Brien took off on one that looked good off the hop, then turned into one to get out of. “I don’t know what just happened,” he said immediately after he came to the surface. “I just wiped out really bad. I must’ve been going left. I got a big cut on my head… I don’t remember much.”

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Underwater, his head came into contact with either the reef or his board. Whatever it was, it knocked him unconscious. “When I fell, it was in kind of a bad spot. It sucked me right over the falls and I think the board hit me in the head. Thank God I was wearing that float suit.”

The float suit brought him to the surface, where a handful of friends realized he was in trouble and came to check on him. From there, he headed to the hospital, where nine staples were inserted into his head and a wake-up call was inserted into his life.

“Six-foot Pipeline almost killed me,” he said. “I almost died at Pipeline… psych levels are down.”

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