Shawn Dollar, the Santa Cruz surfer who holds the world record for the biggest wave ever paddled into, broke his neck in four places and suffered a concussion after hitting his head on a rock during a surf session in California’s Central Coast on Monday.

Shawn Dollar injured off Central Coast

Shawn Dollar paddled into this world-record-setting wave at Cortes Bank, 100 miles off the coast of California. The wave was measured at 61 feet. Photo: Frank Quirarte

Dollar had been surfing off the Big Sur coastline in waves that were averaging between 4 and 6 feet when a south swell came in and reportedly pushed waves to more than 20 feet, putting Dollar into a dangerous and critical situation.

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Somehow, despite the serious injuries he sustained, Dollar was able to get himself to safety before being rushed to a local hospital, where he remained in stable condition. According to others in the Santa Cruz surf community, 34-year-old Dollar is lucky just to be alive.

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"With four breaks in his neck, he got really lucky that he didn't sever his spinal cord," Darryl "Flea" Virostko, another hero of the local surf scene, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The doctors were really amazed. It was a bit of a miracle for Mr. Dollar."

Dollar’s injury comes just two years after he witnessed the death of fellow big-wave surfer Sion Milosky while the duo was surfing Mavericks together in 2011.

"I was sitting right next to him," Dollar told the San Francisco Chronicle. "A wave came and it looked like it was mine, but he'd been out there just killing it, no fear or hesitation, really impressing everyone. He was stroking so hard for that wave, I just said, 'Go ahead, man, that's yours.' It was the last wave of his life …

"My son was born just three days later, and I was still in shock. And now I think about drowning every single day.”

The father of two echoed that love for his family in an Instagram post from the hospital yesterday, but seemed to be in high spirits following the injury:

As news is getting out I wanted to let you know that I'm stable condition and going to be okay. I expect a full recovery. I'm extremely lucky. I'm sorry to share the news this way to my family and friends but as I lay in my hospital bed I need rest and getting back to everyone isn't possible. Every day is a gift. Tell the people around you how much you love them because it's all that matters. I love you @jenn_jetaime Thank you to all my family and friends for all the support. I feel so loved 🙏🙌 ・・・ Big wave professional surfer Shawn Dollar injured on Labor Day off the Central Coast of CA. Santa Cruz, CA – Renowned professional big wave surfer, Titans of Mavericks competitor and multiple Guinness World Record holder Shawn Dollar of Santa Cruz, CA was injured yesterday surfing large waves off of California's Central Coast. A strong south swell reportedly produced waves upwards of 25+ feet with unfavorable mixed conditions putting Dollar in a critical scenario that caused him to act accordingly to protect himself. Shawn broke his neck in four places, incurred head trauma and a concussion. He made it to safety and then was quickly cared for by his fellow surfers in whom transported him expeditiously to the ER for immediate care and evaluation. He is in stable condition at this time. The entire surfing community extends support and love to Shawn and his family. Shawn will be recovering and rehabilitating over the next few months to return to the line up soon. "I'm so thankful I'm alive and present today. Being surrounded by my loved ones through this time has been paramount for me. I'm so grateful for those who where there in my scariest and darkest hour and who acted on my behalf to get me to safety and reach the hospital in time. I'm thankful to learn that even with these severe injuries I will make a full recovery. They will be met with challenges but with my family's support and community encouragement I will be back in no time." – @shawndollar

A photo posted by Shawn Dollar (@shawndollar) on

“I expect a full recovery,” Dollar wrote in the post. “I’m extremely lucky. I’m sorry to share the news this way to my family and friends but as I lay in my hospital bed I need rest and getting back to everyone isn’t possible. Every day is a gift. Tell the people around you how much you love them because it’s all that matters.”

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