"Oh no!" I was de-rigging on the grass when I heard some chatter on the cliff. I jogged up to the group of people that had already formed on the beach. A few guys were surrounded telling everyone that they had seen someone wipeout bad on an over rotated triple attempt. I looked toward the water, the wind howled to an average 30 mph and ramped up spray into the sky above. “Triple” I thought “who would be so nuts as to try a triple today?” “It was Boujmaa.” someone said. “Oh that explains it” I told myself.
The lifeguards were on it. As soon as they heard that Bouj was in trouble they rushed the jet ski out and on to the water. I sailed out to see what happened to Boujmaa, Victor Fernandez said he landed on his neck, his neck, that could mean paralysis . Chilling images entered my mind, I imagined what I would find just after the next swell. Would I find a broken and bloodied man limply hanging on his equipment, screaming in pain? I hoped, half for my sake, that this wasn’t the truth.
He is a good friend of mine and we have known him since my days on Starboard. Back then I was pretty overshadowed by everyone else but Bouj was one of the first guys to take an interest in what I was doing. His positive attitude was inspiring for a 9 year old who was clearly out of the loop with others... I remember him laughing with Dad and I and then going out and pulling the biggest back-loop I have ever seen done at Hookipa, possibly the biggest one done ever at Hookipa. Everyone was yelling on the beach, John Carter just about dropped his camera! After his session was done he sailed back in and sat down with us to continue the conversation, as he was more interested in what we were doing rather than what he had just done!
Every time he comes to Maui he is bringing the newest and the hottest moves. Everyone looks to him for the most radical and nuts stuff. He always thinks out of the box and it is some of the most progressive jumping I have witnessed. Just look at this sequence below of him almost landing a Cheeseroll-Backloop.
After what seemed like hours I finally made it over the break and to the outside where Boujmaa lay. There were already others with him. Diony Guadagnino was signally the ski, John Skye was holding Boujmaa’s gear, Claus Vogat was holding him afloat, and several others were positioned next to him with worried expressions on their faces. I saw that Bouj was for the most part fine. He was coughing severely and he was confused but he was treading water with help. “Jet ski is on the way” I encouraged, he couldn’t hear me, later on I would find that he couldn’t see me.
Back at the beach a crowd of 30 or 40 people stood waiting for the ski to bring him in. There was a low hum of muttering as everyone tried to get information about Boujmaa, the trouble was that no one really knew. The lifeguards were stationed at the beach, ready to get the sprawling figure on the back of the ski. When the ski-driving lifeguard swung through the shore break they swooped him up with precision and strapped him to a stretcher right away. They hauled him up the beach to a position in the sand where they could asses his condition. They did a bunch of tests to see if he was paralyzed, there was a huge cry of relief from 40 men and women when Boujmaa pushed the lifeguard’s hand with his foot! So he was not paralyzed, but he was still in bad shape, Dad and Ricardo stood by him to comfort him. He kept complaining that he couldn’t see any of us, Ricardo shuffled around trying to get into Bouj’s field of view. It was no use, something was wrong with his vision. The paramedics came and put him into an ambulance straight for the ER, John Skye and Nayra Alonso went with him.
Now we were out of the loop. The whole rest of the day we had no idea about what was going on, until Boujmaa’s support page on Facebook showed up. All of the sudden there was all kinds of posts from everyone on Facebook, giving information on his status and links to his support page. Pictures from his crash, which only a handful of people had seen, were now posted everywhere on the web. Jimmie Hepp, a local photographer, had an entire sequence of the event and whereabouts of his condition. What only 5 people had seen was related to 40 people who were there and now 100’s of people on the web! Then next day visitors were aloud and everyone came to see the one who crashed on a triple and a half!
We came in at around 2:30 in the afternoon. Boujmaa lay in a hospital bed with IV’s and monitors around him. But as soon as we entered his face lit up and he greeted us with an unusually positive smile! Annita was with him and she gave us the scoop on what had transpired. A broken right arm, stitches to the upper lip, head trauma, and water filled lungs. From what Boujmaa could remember he had done two loops and then he closed his eyes and couldn’t remember anything else after that. But we figured that he over rotated and landed on his mast near the boom clamp where he impacted with his arm and broke it, then clipped the mast with his face and whiplashed into the mast again but this time with his head. With the impact he had gone unconscious and lay under water for a while where his lungs filled with water. “Luckily” Annita said “we found him with his left arm hung in the boom which kept him from sinking.” Then the blindness he experienced was his head trauma and effects from being knocked out. Some people would think that talking about such a bad experience would be uncomfortable for the injured person, but this was his glory! I mean he was the talk of the town now, usually he was the one to watch at Hookipa, now he was the one to talk about for years to come! Bouj will be out for about six weeks, in which time he will be telling glory stories to all the hard-to-get Moroccan girls in his town, then he will be back!