The 'sacred' beach rule surfer ignored leaving man with horrific injuries

WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT: A Newcastle swimmer has undergone a series of emergency surgeries after a surfer broke a “sacred” rule of the beach, leaving the 49-year-old with severe facial injuries.

Rod Morris was ready to catch his last wave of the morning when he was collected by a stray surfboard in between the flags at Newcastle Beach on Monday last week.

The Newcastle Surf Live Saving club, which Mr Morris belongs to, said a surfer caught a wave into an area he shouldn't have been in.

"Rather than pulling out as he reached the flags he [the surfer] continued on, only diving off his board when the wave closed out," the club wrote on social media.

"His upturned board was now in the middle of the flags and directly in Rods path."

Rod Morris required 30 stitches for the deep lacerations. Source: Facebook/Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club
Rod Morris required 30 stitches for the deep lacerations. Source: Facebook/Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club
A surfer has been slammed for breaking the 'sacred' rule of moving into the flagged area. Source: Getty
A surfer has been slammed for breaking the 'sacred' rule of moving into the flagged area. Source: Getty

On impact the fin of the surfboard cut to the bone across his face, while also leaving a one-inch gash to his chest.

Lucky not to have been knocked unconscious, the nurse and experienced beachgoer said he could feel a pain in his face and chest but had no idea just how serious injuries were.

Bleeding heavily from his face, Mr Morris knew straight away he had to get to the lifeguard tower, who helped rush him to John Hunter Hospital for emergency surgery.

“It will leave a scar, I know that,” he told Newcastle Herald.

“I can’t do anything about it, but other than highlight it. I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. As bad as it was, it could have been much worse.”

Several operations and 30 stitches later, further plastic surgery has not been ruled out.

“He will need plastic surgery to minimise the scarring to his face but will now carry these scars for the rest of his life,” the club wrote in a post that revealed the true extent of Mr Morris’ injuries," Newcastle Surf Live Saving club added.

"Rod was swimming between the flags!"

Mr Morris said he hopes his injuries will raise awareness about the dangers of surfing in between the flags. Source: Facebook/Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club
Mr Morris said he hopes his injuries will raise awareness about the dangers of surfing in between the flags. Source: Facebook/Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club

Surf club instructor Lee Howes drove home the message, saying keeping surfers out of the flagged area, designated for swimmers, was an ongoing battle.

“The majority are great and they understand the flags are a sacred area,” she said.

“But there’s a select few who just think they can surf wherever they want. There’s times where they just ignore you … you’re pretty powerless to do anything about it.”

Mr Morris said the surfer had tried to make contact but said he was not ready for that conversation just yet.

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