Gabby Escudero injured surfing PR

Gabby Escudero is recovering from a serious spinal column injury. Rachel Tanner

Reef team rider, Gabby Escudero, 26, of San Juan, is recovering in Centro Medico Hospital in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico after sustaining a life-threatening injury yesterday surfing the Northwest Coast of the island.

According to his friend, Nico Moreda, Escudero went over the falls and hit the reef head first, leaving a gruesome gash on his head and fractured "wings" of his C6 and C7 vertebrae.

"The flap of skin was hanging down so far, it was covering his eye. We could see his skull," reported Moreda, who then basically saved Escudero's life with Isabella pro, Dylan Graves.

"I was just thinking 'my friend might die.' I took my lycra off and put pressure on his head. He had dislocated his left shoulder and we knew his back was injured. I was pushing Gabby from behind and he grabbed onto Dylan's (Graves) ankle ahead of him. We had to go through Backdoor and Table Top and get him in at Surfer's Beach. I'm not particularly religious, but God definitely helped us out. There were no sets on the way in."

Escudero was taken to Buen Samaritano Hospital in Aguadilla and then transported to Centro Medico in Rio Piedras. Fortunately, Escudero's skull was not damaged. He was apparently stitched up well enough that the plastic surgery was unnecessary.

The surf was reportedly 10-12 foot, a sizable swell considering the lackluster winter the Caribbean just had. Escudero and Moreda had met up with Graves and Vans teammate Dane Gudauskas, who traveled down for the swell.

"It was low tide and there was wind and backwash," reported Mordea, "It was a very north swell and very steep. Dylan said it reminded him of Teahupoo. He broke a board earlier. Gabby went over in the lip on a heavy one."

Escudero is now in stable condition and we wish he and his family the best to a speedy recovery.