Tuesday, 20 December 2011

300 Star Gerard Butler cheats death

Gerard Butler cheated death after being pinned under the water by powerful waves at a notoriously dangerous California surfing spot.

The 300 star was getting ready to film action scenes when he was thrown off his surfboard and pummelled by breakers at least 12 feet high at Maverick’s. Two expert surfers have been killed while riding at the location, which is located two miles from shore in Pillar Point Harbor, south of San Francisco.

The Scot was held underwater for two consecutive waves, before being hit on the head by four or five more when he managed to swim to the surface.

Eventually the 42-year-old was plucked from the water and onto a jet-ski, before being taken to the shore and rushed to hospital by an ambulance. The star was taken to the nearby Stanford Medical Centre and detained for observation overnight.

Gerard's representative said: 'He is totally fine, they held him for observation. 'But he has been cleared and he is ok.'

The Paisley, Renfrewshire born actor was shooting footage on Sunday for his upcoming flick Of Men and Mavericks, which tells the story of tragic young surfer Jay Moriarity.

Surfer Frank Quirarte was on the scene when the Machine Gun Preacher hunk had his brush with death. In his ESPN Action Sports blog he said: 'Butler was held down for a solid two-waves and took four or five more waves on the head.

'He was then washed through the rocks on the inside before he was finally able to be plucked out. 'Even on small days the inside at Maverick’s can push 10ft plus and really tear you up. 'When they brought Butler in he had that 100-yard stare that surfers get after a two-wave hold [down] or near death experience.

'After almost 20 years at Mavericks I’ve seen a lot of it, but at least he was standing on his own two legs. 'He was carted away in the ambulance and raced off to Stanford Medical Centre for observation.'

And Mr Quirante, who is a founding member for the water patrol that looks after surfer safety in the area, also believes the actor should not have been allowed to put himself in danger. He said: 'Butler had no business near the bowl or taking a Maverick’s set on the head.'

He said Gerard and his co-workers were keen to get into the water, even though the waves were in the 'in the 10-to12-foot range' with favourable conditions causing even larger ones to roll in. He had headed out with surfers Peter Mel, Zach Wormhoudt and Greg Long, and all three had been sitting when a surprise breaker threw them from their boards.

He said: 'With Maverick’s and the entire Northern Hemisphere big-wave season off to a slow start surfers and the film crew were chomping at the bit to get a few days of surfing and filming in.

'They were all sitting on the inside when a large outside set came through, swung way to the south, caught them off-guard and mowed them all down.

'For Mel, Long and Wormhoudt it's all in a day's work, but according to other eyewitnesses, Butler was held down for a solid two waves and took four or five more on the head before being washed through the rocks on the inside, where he was finally able to be plucked out.'

And he detailed the dramatic moment Gerard was taken back to the shore for medical assistance. He said: 'We could here the faint sounds of sirens in the distance. And as the sirens got closer they turned down the road and headed straight for us.

'One of the film crew’s radio cracked and I heard they were “bringing Gerry (Butler) in. 'No sooner did I hear that transmission then a ski and Zodiac turned the corner at the Half Moon Bay harbor mouth and were coming in fast.

'I ran down to the dock, help tie off the Zodiac, and noticed Gerard on board.' Gerard's lucky escape is made all the more stark by the fact well-known surfers have died while riding the notoriously difficult waves there.

Less than eight months ago 35-year-old Hawaiian surfer Sion Milosky died in a near identical accident at Maverick’s.

Professional Mark Foo also died there in 1994, an incident that led to a safety patrol being set up.

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