Brave young surfer living 'worst nightmare' after horror beach accident

Gold Coast couple Johnny Konings and Charlotte Gordon are meant to be celebrating their engagement, but instead are facing up to six months in a spinal ward.

Gold Coast couple Charlotte Gordon and partner Johnny Konings are seen in two split images, one of Gordon's graduation and another from Konings' hospital bedside.
Gold Coast couple Charlotte Gordon and Johnny Konings are facing up to six months in hospital for Johnny's recovery. Source: Instagram

A heartbroken surfer who suffered a broken spine, broken ribs and a collapsed lung after he was speared into a sandbank earlier this month has vowed to one day walk again, no matter how long the road ahead.

New Zealand national Johnny Konings, who lives on the Gold Coast with his partner Charlotte Gordon, nearly lost his life during the freak wipe-out at Duranbah Beach — on the NSW-Queensland border — last Tuesday, on his first wave of the day. The 31-year-old is now paralysed from the waist down and doctors say he may never walk again, but Konings is determined to prove them wrong.

The recently engaged pair are facing a journey of up to six months at Brisbane Hospital in the spinal ward, with Konings' recovery expected to be both long and challenging. Gordon said "life as we knew it" was "changed in an instant" after the freak accident, which ironically took place at Konings' "favourite Gold Coast surfing" spot.

Johnny Konings outside of hospital, after suffering a broken spine, broken ribs and a collapsed lung after he was speared into a sandbank at Duranbah Beach on the NSW-Queensland border.
The surfer suffered a broken spine, broken ribs and a collapsed lung after he was speared into a sandbank at Duranbah Beach on the NSW-Queensland border last week. Source: 7News

Speaking to media from his wheelchair, Konings said "he knew straight away" that something was gravely wrong after he came off his board. Through tears, the 31-year-old branded the harrowing ordeal as "like a worst nightmare" come true.

But he vows to one day walk again. 'I'm up for it [the challenge] — extremely determined to get back on my feet again," he told 7 News

"Increasingly, it's the mental challenges that's going to be the hardest part," he said, praising the onlookers who banded together to save his life.

"They all came together to get me out of the water safely," he recalled. "It was just incredible". Gordon said she was thankful for the fact "he's alive" under the circumstances. "[It's] such a miracle — we're so fortunate," she said.

A view of the wave that speared Konings into the sandbank, and an inset of surfers coming to his aid in the water at Duranbah Beach.
Thanks to the efforts of quick-thinking onlookers, Konings was brought to safety and transported to hospital immediately after the accident. Source: 7News

Gordon has since set up a fundraising campaign to help cover the costs associated with Konings' long road to recovery. "When life gives you lemons, you throw in some lime, salt, a s***t ton of tequila and make a bloody strong margarita," she wrote, adding that her partner's recovery will be "the biggest journey of our lives".

"He is currently paralysed from the waist down with no sensation, we remain incredibly positive and are going to throw everything we possibly can at this. Day by day those that know Johnny know he doesn’t give up easy. His sense of humour is still intact and there’s a lot of positivity coming from this hospital ward," she wrote.

The couple "were supposed to be in New Zealand" last week "celebrating our engagement with friends and family" but were forced to pivot those plans to the spinal ward. "Not quite how we imagined celebrating, but incredibly special all the same," Gordon said.

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