Champion Big Wave Surfer Breaks Neck at Ocean Beach

A wave nearly killed champion surfer Mike Parsons at Ocean Beach.

By Chris Roberts
|  Saturday, Jan 26, 2013  |  Updated 7:44 AM PDT
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Say what you want about its climate -- San Francisco's Ocean Beach is legitimately gnarly.

Mike Parsons, a world champion big wave surfer and no slouch in any conditions -- he's a Hall of Fame wave-rider, if you must know -- got stuck in triple-overhead waves on the break near SF's Great Highway and was tossed in the surf, according to the Ocean Beach Bulletin.

He broke the largest vertebrae in his neck, but is not paralyzed -- and considers himself lucky to be alive.

He was saved by his flotation device, and another surfer who helped paddle him to dry land and safety. He'll wear a neck brace for the next six weeks but is expected to make a full recovery, the newspaper reported.

"I was so lucky," Parsons said.

The mishap happened one day before the Mavericks big wave competition at Half Moon Bay, the Huffington Post observed, so the waves were indeed at their highest.

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