Lake Oswego surfer rushes to aid injured Bend youth
Matt Hundhammer helped carry young surfer to the beach
By now almost all Pacific Northwesterners have heard the story of Cole Ortega, the Bend youth who suffered a tragic arm injury when hit by a dory boat while surfing Sunday at Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City.
For two local residents, it was more than a story on the evening news.
Matt Hundhammer, 20, was surfing on the same beach Sunday as Ortega, 14. He had a front row seat for the accident.
'I was like 20 yards away when the boat hit him,' amputating his left arm near his bicep, said Hundhammer, an economics and environmental studies student at University of Oregon. 'I was able to help get him onto the beach on a board stretched out like a stretcher. I helped with getting his arm wrapped.'
Hundhammer, a Lakeridge High School graduate, was part of a group of surfers who helped get Ortega to shore. The surfers somehow stayed calm, even going as far as to tie Ortega's shoulder with a surf leash made into a tourniquet.
The limb was recovered by another surfer.
The incident wasn't too surprising to Greg Broderick, another Lake Oswego resident who was at the beach with his 10-year-old son, Riley.
'We were thinking about going fishing that day and decided not to,' said Broderick. 'The second I saw (the conditions), I told my son that, 'today's the day that a surfer's going to get hit by a boat.''
He was right. From their spot on the beach, which Broderick estimated to be 100 yards away from the incident, they could see the blood in the water. It didn't look good.
'To be honest with you, the amount of blood that was in the water … I thought he was going to not make it for sure.'
According to Oregon State Police, Cape Kiwanda is home to a large dory fishing fleet and is also a popular surfing location.
Fortunately for Ortega, Hundhammer and the other surfers sprang into action.
'My mind just kind of went blank besides the fact that this kid just got hit,' said Hundhammer. 'It was like 'holy crap, I need to get over there, I need to help.''
The incident shines a spotlight on what Hund-hammer says is a longstanding conflict between the dory boats and the surfers in the area. It's a popular spot for both parties.
Because of the way dories float in the water, they have to ride in a trough between two waves before cresting over a wave as they come towards shore. With the waves as high as they were Sunday, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the boaters to see the surfers or vice versa.
While some reports have said the dory was going too fast, Broderick says the waves determine the speed of the dories and he doesn't blame anybody for the incident happening.
'You had three things against you,' said Broderick, who's been going to that beach for 25 years. 'You had a lot of boats out there for the Fourth of July weekend. You had the surf that got to about 10 feet within about two hours. And you had a lot of surfers right out there in that spot.'
Hundhammer, who's been surfing at this spot at Pacific City since 2004, says it's not going to change the way he surfs, but called the event 'eye-opening.'
According to reports, doctors managed to reattach Ortega's arm, but it's unknown if he'll ever regain the ability to use it. Hundhammer is hopeful that Ortega will be able to get back to surfing sooner rather than later.
'From the whole surfing community, I just want to say our hopes and thoughts are with Cole and his family. I just want to see him back in the lineup.'