BANORA Point's Nick Bushnell says he owes his life to his friend Gili Day who saved him from drowning twice following a freak kitesurfing accident.
At Byron Shire's South Golden Beach on October 16, Nick spent more than two minutes under water after his kiteboard flicked him 10m into the air and he landed backwards on the water on his neck with such force he was temporarily paralysed.
The accident left the 35-year-old being dragged by his board 300m from shore unable to fight his way to the surface.
"I just couldn't move anything," Nick recalls.
"I kept on thinking 'hold your breath, someone will come' but no-one came."
Kitesurfing 200m away towards shore, Gili saw Nick's accident, but it was at least two minutes before the Casuarina resident could reach his friend.
Nick says he was seconds from drowning and had mentally said goodbye to his wife Nicole and two young children when Gili pulled him to the surface.
"You saved me. My body is shot. I can't move anything," Nick exclaimed.
But his relief was short-lived when Gili's kiteboard, which he was still attached to, caught wind and he was dragged away, plunging Nick back underwater for another minute.
After struggling upwind to reach him a second time, Gili thought his friend was a goner.
"Call an ambulance, he's dying," the 36-year-old yelled to nearby backpackers as he carried Nick back to the beach.
Two medical personnel from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service had to be lowered onto the beach as it was too gusty to land.
A team of six helped carry Nick, who was conscious but still unable to move, to the chopper in a nearby park.
Nick was airlifted to Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital where he was treated for spinal injuries.
With feeling restored to his body, Nick was discharged from the spinal unit on Monday and he expects to make a full recovery.
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