Jamie Mitchell Breaks Sternum In Puerto Wipeout

"When I came up, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t yell for help. I couldn’t reach my arms above my head.”

A developing SSW at Puerto last week hinted that conditions might be thumping enough to soon call the BWWT Puerto Escondido Challenge event on. Regardless of whether the contest gets the green light, chargers from across the world have rushed to Playa Zicatela to put in practice at the beach break, which sent a warning shot on Friday when a closeout pitched Jamie Mitchell’s board into his chest, breaking his sternum.

“I was trying to get my last wave,” Mitchell said in an interview with Surfline. “Famous last words. [Laughs]. I took a six-footer, which looked like it was going to travel a bit. I pulled in and the thing collapsed. As I was getting blown off, the board slingshot right into my sternum. It hit me like a truck. The force of the board was like some 500-pound dude hitting you in the chest. Took the wind right out of me. Underwater, I could feel a big indent in my chest. And when I came up, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t yell for help, I couldn’t reach my arms above my head.”

Mitchell rushed to undo his leash, though he struggled under limited breath from the sharp pain. Incoming sets pounded on top of Mitchell’s head before lifeguards could reach him. Assisted by friends like Greg Long and Coco Nogales, Mitchell was immediately taken by ambulance to the local hospital. Doctors later determined that the surfboard’s impact had indeed broken his sternum, though no vital organs were damaged.

The Australian would board a plane for LAX hours later for more X-rays and the beginning stages of rehab. Our thoughts go out to Jamie and the rest of the Puerto crew, as they continue to chase sandy anvils during this run of swell.