Celebrated Hawaiian big-wave surfer Sion Milosky drowned at Mavericks on Wednesday. From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Milosky caught at least six waves before he fell when the lip of a wave he was riding collapsed on top of him, (Mavericks surfer Ken) Collins said. The fall happened during low tide, when the water depth at the break averaged 15-20 feet deep. The water pushed Milosky toward the bottom and his board “tombstoned,” Collins said. Another wave crashed over Milosky shortly after the first, Collins said.

Nathan Fletcher, an invitee to The Jay at Maverick’s Big Wave Contest who had traveled to Santa Cruz with Milosky, went looking for Milosky on a Jet Ski shortly after Milosky fell, Collins said. About 20 minutes after the incident, Fletcher found Milosky’s body floating at the Pillar Point Harbor mouth, about a mile from the break, Collins said.

In January, another Mavericks surfer, Jacob Trette, was critically injured before recovering, after he wiped out on a giant wave.

Another famous surfer, Mark Foo, died in a surfing accident in 1994.

Milosky’s death has renewed talk of relaxing rules about when non-government jet skis should be allowed in the water, as well as other possible safety measures. A Santa Cruz Sentinel editorial from today: “Mavericks claims another life.”

Earlier this year, Jacob Trette of Laguna Beach narrowly averted death after being pulled unconscious from the water by a surf photographer patrolling the surf break on a borrowed Jet Ski. Ironically, the Jet Ski was being used illegally that day. That was also the case Wednesday, when Milosky’s friend and fellow surfer went looking on a personal watercraft for him shortly after he fell on a wave. But, tragically, he didn’t find his friend for 20 minutes, until he spotted Milosky’s body floating in the harbor mouth area about a mile from the surf break…

It’s amazing more people haven’t died at Maverick’s. Relaxing the federal government ban, and allowing personal watercraft to legally patrol the break, would seem to be the wisest alternative, although the known risks of riding mountains of water in spooky conditions won’t diminish.

There’s plenty of video and other material on the web celebrating Milosky’s life and surfing career.

KGO video report on Milosky’s death

Famed Surfer Sion Milosky Drowned at Mavericks; Web Video Tributes 18 March,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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