PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — On the same day and just miles apart, two men broke their necks while bodysurfing at beaches in Rhode Island.
Gary Parmentier was bodysurfing at Misquamicut State Beach when he was flipped by a wave and broke his neck. Thankfully, another swimmer saw Gary struggling and brought him to shore.
Just hours later at Narragansett Town Beach, another man also broke his neck while bodysurfing.
Orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Phillip Lucas said while bodysurfing is fun, it can also be extremely dangerous.
“Bodysurfing is looked upon as a pretty enjoyable activity and we don’t think of it as something being so dangerous,” Lucas said.
Lucas said he typically sees one minor neck injury a week in the summer months, but broken necks are rarer. He added that it’s no coincidence both victims are men in their 60s.
“Middle-aged males are most at risk for neck injuries while bodysurfing,” Lucas said.
Lucas said that is because as we get older, our skeleton becomes more rigid and our neck loses flexibility.
Both men are now home from the hospital and are expected to make near-full recoveries, according to Lucas, but he said the men are lucky because the outcome could’ve been much worse.
According to Lucas, beachgoers should avoid bodysurfing when the water is rough and should learn how to brace themselves just in case a strong wave hits.
He also said it’s important for bodysurfers to keep their hands in front to protect the head and neck.