HONOLULU — Two-time world bodyboarding champion Andre Botha was presented with a Silver Lifesaving Medal by Rear Adm. Matthew Sibley, commander, Coast Guard 14th District, at Ehukai Beach Park, Oahu, yesterday.
The Silver Lifesaving Medal was in recognition of Botha’s rescue of a surfer on Dec. 6, 2015, who had wiped out while surfing at Banzai Pipeline, Oahu. Botha had recovered the unconscious surfer from the ocean bottom and held him afloat while attempting lifesaving breaths until ocean safety responders arrived.
“The Coast Guard is grateful for watermen like Andre remain alert for the safety of others in the ocean, and especially the heavy surf,” said Kevin Cooper, the Coast Guard 14th District search and rescue program manager. “His brave actions that day made the difference in a life and death situation.
On Dec. 6, 2015, Evan Geiselman was free surfing at Banzai Pipeline when he wiped out inside a wave’s barrel and didn’t surface.
The wipeout caused Geiselman’s airway to fill with saltwater while also rendering him unconscious and leaving him lying on the reef below.
Botha, who was body boarding nearby, watched for Geiselman to resurface through a three wave set. Once Geiselman’s board resurfaced without him Botha dove down through the surf to find him.
Botha recovered the unconscious and non-breathing Mr. Geiselman from the seafloor and held him afloat while attempting rescue breaths.
Ocean Safety Officers Jason Bitzer and Perry Turnbull were first on-scene to assist with recovering the still unconscious Geiselman and brought him to the shore.
Geiselman was taken to the hospital where he made a full recovery and was released two days later.
Botha was born in Cape Town in 1981, and became a professional bodyboarder at the age of 15.
Botha won his first world title at the age of 17 and his second at 18, winning both the Global Organization of Bodyboarding World Tour Series and the Pipeline World Championship.
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