Newcastle clubbie wiped out between the flags as surfers ‘ignore’ the rules

HURT: Rod Morris suffered a deep gash across his face after being struck by a surfboard at Newcastle beach. Picture: Jonathan Carroll ROD Morris couldn’t bring himself to look.
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He finds his severe injuries “a bit upsetting, a bit confronting”, and he is still not ready to speak to the man who did it to him.

But the Newcastle Surf Lifesaving Club member does want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else, as lifesavers admit they feel “powerless” to stop “a select few” surfers dropping in between the flags.

Mr Morris, 49, said he felt a sudden and sharp pain in his face when he was bodysurfing at Newcastle beach on Monday last week.

As he went to catch his last wave of the morning, he collided with a stray surfboard. The fincut to the bone across his face. He also suffereda one-inchgash tohis chest and an arm injury.

“All I remember is hitting something really hard. I thought it was another swimmer,” Mr Morris said.

“And then I just felt the pain in my face and chest. I was in quite a bit of shock, but I knew I had to get up to the [lifeguard] tower straight away … I was lucky I hadn’t been knocked unconscious.”

With blood pouring from his head, the keen swimmer made it back to shore and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital for surgery.

RECOVERY: Rod Morris received about 30 stitches and suffered injuries to his face, chest and arm. “I hate to think what would happen to a kid or elderly person.”

The surgeon asked if he wanted to see his injuries.

“I couldn’t bring myself to look,” he said. “It’s all a bit upsetting, a bit confronting.”

Mr Morris, who is a nurse, said he was pleased with his recovery but doctors hadn’t ruled out plastic surgery. He received about 30 stitches.

“It will leave a scar, I know that,” he said. “I can’t do anything about itbut, 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,” he said.

“I hate to think what would happen to a kid or elderly person.”

Surf club instructor Lee Howes said keeping boardriders out of the flags was an ongoing problem.

“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.”

Ms Howes urged all beachgoers to respect the rules.

“If it had been a young kid, it could have been fatal,” she said.

“This is an accident that shouldn’t have happened.”

Mr Morris said the surfer tried to get in touch, but he was not ready to speak.

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