Kiama surfer breaks neck off Sumatra

Kiama surfer breaks neck off Sumatra
Darren Longbottom and wife Aimee. Aimee has flown to Singapore to be by his side.

Darren Longbottom and wife Aimee. Aimee has flown to Singapore to be by his side.

None

Kiama businessman and keen surfer Darren Longbottom is in a Singapore hospital after breaking his neck in a freakish surfing accident off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Tuesday.Mr Longbottom has no feeling from his shoulders down and is expected to remain in hospital for a couple of months.He was on a boat trip with friends in the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra and enjoying a surf when he swung off the back of a wave but became tangled in the air 2.5m above the lip.When he landed he crashed head first into the middle of his board, breaking it.He lost all feeling from his neck down, but stayed conscious enough to yell for help."One of his mates dived in and saved him," Mr Longbottom's brother, renowned big wave rider Dylan, said yesterday."They had to get Darren out of the water, onto the boat, then stabilise him."It took a helicopter 10 hours to reach the remote location."This is a really remote place. It was a real small chopper," Dylan said."They had to strap him to a surfboard for his back."Mr Longbottom was flown from Sumatra to Penang and then put on a plane to Singapore, but it was 24 hours before he got to hospital, where he underwent major surgery on Wednesday night. He is in a stable condition."We've since found out that Darren broke his C5 and C6 vertebrae," Dylan said."He has feeling in his arms, but not from his shoulders down."The doctors said the operation was successful and they said it would be a day-by-day situation."He will be in hospital for two months."Darren and his wife, Aimee, own and operate the Zink Surf Shop in Kiama.Aimee has flown to Singapore with Darren's parents, Pam and Ross, to be with him.Darren and Aimee's one-year-old daughter, Bowie, is being cared for by Aimee's parents.Dylan said it was just a normal-sized surf and not the huge waves that he rides in locations throughout the world."This has been a massive ordeal. Everyone's shattered," Dylan said."He was on a casual surfing trip with friends."It was a freakish accident."We're all in shock, we can't believe it."Dylan said he hadn't considered changing his career as an international big wave rider as a result of Darren's accident."It's put some questions in my head."But I'm just worried about my brother at the moment," Dylan said.