Exp Mag: Riding the big wave with an inflatable safety vest

Pro surfer Kohl Christensen was at home in North Shore Oahu when he got the call. He was supposed to be surfing 30-foot waves at Maverick’s, the mythical Northern California big wave break, but a snowboarding injury the week before had relegated him to the couch. Now, a fellow surfer was on the line with tragic news: Pro surfer Sion Milosky, Christensen’s friend since childhood, was dead, drowned after two gigantic waves held him under water, washing him nearly a mile down the coast.

Christensen’s world stopped. Milosky was surfing better than anyone in the world and had, months before, paddled into the tallest wave ever recorded. He thought of Milosky’s daughters. How could this happen?

As more details of the accident emerged, grief’s knife twisted deeper. There were barely any jet skis — often the first line of life-saving in big wave surfing — on site due to California government regulations. Only one person on the beach knew and administered CPR. Milosky was pronounced dead more than an hour after the accident.

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