Paul Davies and his wife, Julie, with their daughters, Lily, 5, (left) and Charlotte, 4, at their Lennox Head home.
Paul Davies and his wife, Julie, with their daughters, Lily, 5, (left) and Charlotte, 4, at their Lennox Head home.

Surfer paralysed after head hits sand bank

PAUL DAVIES thought he was going to die.

The Lennox Head man was lying face down completely paralysed in nearly a metre of water at Sharps Beach after diving off his surfboard and hitting his head on a sandbank on May 4.

As he started to let out what he thought was his final breath a wave rolled him onto his back and he gasped greedily for air.

The wave saved his life.

"I thought I was gone, definitely," Mr Davies told The Northern Star.

"I couldn't do anything. I was just bobbing like jelly on the top of the water.

"The wave hit me and rolled me over two or three times and I ended up on my back.

"I gasped for some air and just screamed for my brother."

His brother-in-law, John Catts, was surfing with the 39-year-old at the time and gently cradled the injured surfer to the beach.

From there the former Ballina rugby union player was stabilised by an unknown passer-by, off-duty nurse Kerry Wilcox, another brother-in-law David, and Paul's wife Julie, who had rushed to the beach.

Mr Davies was then airlifted by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter to Brisbane's Mater Hospital. He was later transferred to the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

By late Sunday night he had recovered some feeling in his arms and legs, but it was confirmed that he had broken his C6 vertebrae.

The father-of-two was released from hospital late last week and doctors expect him to make a full recovery, although he has yet to regain full movement in his hands and is experiencing severe shooting pains as a cause of his injuries.

Mr Davies hopes to return to light work duties with John Morgan Earthmovers in three to four weeks.

But Mr Davies knows how lucky he is to survive.

Amazingly it seems the new wetsuit he bought the week before the accident played a big part in saving his life.

"Having a wetsuit on definitely kept me afloat," Mr Davies said.

"You're either a floater or not, and we've got a pool out the back and I'm definitely not a floater."

The moment he bobbed to the surface after hitting his head is still clear in his mind.

"It was like when you see a movie camera sit on the water and part of it is in and part of it is out," he said.

"I got that vision by looking up with one of my eyes."

A former first grade rugby player for Ballina for 14 years, Mr Davies had been struggling to hang up the boots after claiming his ninth first grade premiership with the club last year.

The second-rower had played a few third grade matches earlier this season, but his career is most certainly over following the accident.

However, the injury won't stop Mr Davies surfing again.

He and his family have received overwhelming support from the local community and would like to thank all those who helped out during the traumatic week.


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