A firefighter severely injured his spine after getting caught up in a 10ft wave while attempting to take photographs in the sea.
Chris Knight, 40, from Windsor, Berkshire, was on holiday in Hawaii when he went down to the bay one day before sunrise to take some photographs.
While in the sea, he was scooped up and swept 8ft under water by the giant wave, which pushed him onto the sea bed.
The 40-year-old described how he had hiked to a particular bay in the hope that he would take ‘some good photographs,’ but things didn’t go to plan.
Chris said of his decision to get in the water:
We got up before sunrise, drove to the location and hiked down to the bay since it was so early and the park wardens hadn’t opened the gates to the beach road yet but we really wanted to get some good photographs.
Saying how ‘things were going well’, the firefighter noted that the waves were ‘unpredictable’ and kept breaking at various sizes in different places.
I realised I wasn’t in the right place to get the shot so as it towered over me I swam with it a little to put myself in the sweet spot for the photo as the tube closed down on me.
Unfortunately I got scooped up in the 10ft wave and as it moved forward I went from being at the bottom to being pushed up the back and over the top.
Surfers call this ‘going over the falls’. The front lip of the wave pushed me through and smashed me into the sand and flat on my back about 8ft under water.
In that split second when everything went dark and I slammed into the ocean floor I thought it was all over.
At first convinced he had broken most of his spine, Chris soon realised he could move his arms and legs and was able to get to the surface of the water.
However, due to being aggressively thrown around by the wave, the 40-year-old still ended up with several injuries – including a damaged joint in his right shoulder and a torn ligament in his knee. He also had severe bruising.
Not realising he had slipped a disc in his back – because it hadn’t been picked up by an X-ray – Chris couldn’t understand why he was in so much pain all over his body.
Because the slipped disk wasn’t diagnosed, the firefighter flew home from Hawaii shortly afterwards. However, only a few days later, the rest of the disc in his back slipped out.
This put pressure on his spinal cord leaving him unable to walk for two to three months, but Chris eventually received a discetomy last May.
After the operation it was instant relief and I no longer felt like I had a carving knife in my hip.
I eventually went back to work on light duties and continued to rehabilitate myself along with help from our fire brigade movement specialist.
Although there were a few hiccups and steps backwards on the road to recovery I am now back to my old self.
Now, one year on from the surgery, Chris has been able to return to his duties as a firefighter and is back to his usual healthy self.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).