By Andrea Swayne
Updated August 13, 2011
According to Greg Long – brother of fellow big wave surfer Rusty Long who has been recovering from burns suffered during a July 24 accident – Rusty is being released from the hospital today.
During his acceptance speech for the Waterman of the Year Award at the 22nd Annual SIMA Waterman’s Ball on August 12, Greg thanked the surf community – on behalf of Rusty and the entire Long family – for all the support and well wishes Rusty received during his stay in the hospital.
“Rusty sends his regards and wants to thank all of you for all the love and support you’ve shown him, as do I, as does our entire family.” said Greg. “He’s been recovering, so well in fact, that he’ll be released from the hospital tomorrow – three weeks earlier than planned.”
San Clemente Big Wave Pro Surfer Rusty Long Recovering from Burns
By Andrea Swayne
ORIGINALLY POSTED AUGUST, 4, 2011
Updated August 9, 2011
On July 24 San Clemente-based big wave surfer Rusty Long suffered 2nd degree burns over approximately 40 percent of his body while clearing debris on property he owns in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Rusty is in stable condition in the University of California San Diego Burn Center Intensive Care Unit and has already received a second round of skin grafts on his wounds.
Long and his neighbor were setting a controlled burn to clear a pile of brush and construction debris that had become occupied by a swarm of aggressive bees and scorpions when the flames flared up, causing Long’s burns, said Rusty’s father Steve Long.
“They had been waiting for the appropriate weather conditions to light the pile on fire-calm, no wind, with a forecast of rain showers overnight which would douse the coals. Gasoline was poured on the debris pile prior to lighting and the doctors speculate that gasoline vapors mixed with the sweat on Rusty’s body and vapors were also present in the heavy humidity and air surrounding the debris pile,” said Steve. “The fire jumped to Rusty after it was ignited. The wind began gusting at the moment the fire was ignited and Rusty was too close to the pile.”
Rusty’s friend Mathew Gonzales-also of San Clemente-rushed him to the Red Cross station. From there he was transported to the local hospital by ambulance.
“He was given excellent urgent care [at the local hospital]. The attending physician recommended Rusty be air lifted to either Mexico City or the United States for advanced care,” said Steve. “We arranged a jet ambulance to fly Rusty and his girlfriend Kelly Cox to San Diego the morning after the accident.”
The burns mainly affected the right side of his body and his right arm. Rusty’s face was not burned.
Steve, his mom Jan, sister Heather, girlfriend Kelly and brother Greg-fellow professional big wave surfer-have been taking turns at his bedside since his arrival at the UCSD Burn Center.
“He is in excellent spirits and the medical staff feels that his healing progress has been exceptional due to his fitness, mental outlook and diet,” said Steve. “He’s expected to make a full recovery and his progress has been so exceptional that some ICU nurses have nicknamed him ‘Unicorn” (as in an amazing mythical creature). Rusty firmly believes that drinking coconut water has helped with his healing. His goal is to make it home in time to celebrate his 30th birthday on August 16.”
Doctors are expected to determine by the end of this week whether Rusty’s injuries will require additional skin grafts and more time in the hospital, said Steve in an August 9 phone call.
Rusty is not able to receive calls or visitors at this time and his family requests that well wishes be posted to the San Clemente Times and Dana Point Times website comment board so that he can read them online.
The family also asks that in lieu of sending gifts and flowers, a donation be made on Rusty’s behalf to support the UCSD Burn Center and the Hospital General and Red Cross of Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
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