Kobi Graham, a lifeguard star of the Australian reality television series "Bondi Rescue," said Monday he was lucky to avoid paralysis and death when he broke his neck in a surfing wipeout.
The 30-year-old lifeguard from Bondi Beach in Sydney's east was surfing at Cape Solander in southern Sydney on Sunday when he said he landed head-first on a reef, cracking two vertebrae in his neck.
"All I was thinking was —hoping, praying — that I had movement because I had these really severe shooting pains down my arms," Graham told Network Ten television from a hospital bed as he lay wearing a neck brace.
"As soon as I got to the surface, I was just screaming for help," he added.
Network Ten is the Australian broadcaster of the series that follows the daily work of lifeguards patrolling Sydney's premier beach. The series, which is in its sixth season, is also broadcast in Europe and New Zealand.
His brother Aaron Graham said the injured surfer instructed his rescuers how to stabilize his broken neck.
"His background training in spinal management probably saved him," Aaron Graham told Ten.
Kobi Graham, who had yet to undergo surgery to set the crushed vertebrae, said he was grateful he had not lost consciousness.
"I'm lucky I didn't get knocked out. I probably would have drowned," he said.
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