Stray surfboard hits young surfer
A 10-YEAR-OLD boy was critically injured surfing The Pass at Byron Bay last Friday when his skull was shattered by the stray surfboard of an inexperienced surfer.
Pascal Dattler, from the Byron Shire, was only millimetres from death, according to Brisbane neurosurgeons. The incident follows a string of recent accidents at the iconic surf break as holiday-makers and hapless beginners try to cut it with skilled surfers at the dangerous point-break.
Pascal, an experienced surfer, was helped to shore by the board rider and assisted by lifesaver Kurt Tutt. He was bleeding profusely from his head injuries.
“I’ve been a lifesaver for 14 years and this was the worst injury I’ve seen in the surf,” Mr Tutt said.
Pascal’s mother, Tara, drove him to Byron Bay Hospital, where staff immediately transferred him by ambulance to Tweed Heads for a CT scan.
He was then transported by emergency ambulance to the neurosurgery ward of the Mater Hospital in Brisbane and prepared for surgery.
Eight pieces of fractured bone were pushing towards Pascal’s brain, the protective lining to the brain was torn and there was an 18cm cut to the bone along the right side of his head.
Surgeons screwed seven metal plates to the young boy’s skull, which will remain with him for life.
Pascal’s father, Thomas Dattler, is the owner of tourist operation Byron Bay Ballooning.
“His life has certainly changed for ever,” he said.
“One of the doctors told us just one more centimetre and he would have been dead.”
Mr Dattler is determined to see something positive come from his son’s brush with death.
“I would like to see an information board about dangers to surfers from boards out of control, especially from beginners, perhaps with an information sheet to be given out to beginners at surf schools and hire places,” Mr Dattler said.
He would also like to see rubber nose guards on allbeginners’ boards.
“In Pascal’s case it was a board with a pointed fibreglass tip that crushed straight through his skull,” Mr Dattler said.
A Mater Hospital spokeswoman said yesterday that Pascal was conscious and in a stable condition.