Earlier today, Dusty Payne took off on a steep 4-foot wave on the inside at Backdoor, just as the talented Maui tube rider had done a million times before. This time, however, things went terribly wrong upon takeoff.

“He couldn’t set his rail and he slipped and went over the handlebars,” says North Shore photographer Keoki Saguibo, who was shooting photos at Backdoor and saw the wipeout firsthand.”I’m guessing from there he got sucked over the falls and went head first into the reef.”

According to Saguibo, Payne was held down for five waves with his board tombstoning while Saguibo raced to get to him. Once Saguibo reached Payne, it was clear that he was unconscious and had suffered injuries to his head and face during the wipeout.

“He smashed his forehead, his eye socket looked pretty bad and his jaw was shattered on one side,” says Saguibo. “He’d probably been unconscious for 3 to 4 minutes by the time we got him to the beach. Once the lifeguards got to us, I stepped back and let them takeover, but I saw that he was starting to spit out water which was a good sign.”

Surfers and lifeguards rushed to Payne’s aid as soon as they knew something was wrong. Photo: Saguibo

From there, Payne was rushed to the hospital where he is currently being treated for his injuries. According to Saguibo, friends are with Payne now and he is conscious and responsive.

“It could have been worse, for sure, so he’s super lucky,” says Saguibo. “All the surfers know that when you hear someone yell, something’s wrong. I’m really glad that all the surfers heard that and came in to help. It was a good response from everybody, and we’re all hoping that Dusty’s OK.”

Our thoughts are with Payne, his friends and family. We hope that he’ll make a speedy recovery and be back in the water soon.

[Top image: Payne, taking off on the fateful Backdoor wave this morning. Photo by Saguibo]