Larry’s Last Wave

By Jerry Jackintell

It’s been 48 hours since I saw fellow surfer, Larry Kong, get a beautiful set wave all the way from “Poles” to the stairs at Campus Point. That was Larry’s last wave of his life. I’m still processing the event.

I passed him as he was smiling paddling back. I caught a small wave, and then when I kicked out and started paddling back up the point I noticed, something was wrong. Very wrong.

When I got up to him, he was floating facedown. I pulled him on top of my board turned him over to clear his airways. It was scary and spiritually surreal as I tried to press on his chest, shake him and revive him.  At first I thought he was moving but that must’ve just been me moving him. 

I swam him in on top of my board. It was very quiet. The ocean had turned completely calm and although it felt like an eternity, it probably only took a couple minutes to get to the beach.

I pulled him up to beach someone from the cliff had called 9-1-1 and they were approaching me as I was performing CPR. It took another 10 -15 minutes for the fire and rescue to show up, by that time I had spent about 20 minutes alone with him.

Fire and Rescue took over and started asking me a bunch of questions as they cut off Larry’s wetsuit with scissors and took over CPR. They waited for the defibrillator to be run down the beach to Larry. I stepped back for a moment and looked at in the break, and I saw his paddle floating there.

I remembered when I first got to him how surreal the feeling was and then the 15 minutes that I was alone with him my thoughts were that I hoped he would make it, but if he doesn’t, I was hoping he would go to heaven. Looking back, although it was pretty traumatic, it was also a gift to be next to someone as their soul passes on into eternity, and leaves their body.

Fire Chief Adam Estabrook told me the odds were unlikely that he was going to make it. He was very intuitive and comforting in telling me that I did all the right things and that I gave him a “chance” to survive. Because I was thinking, “what else could I have done?” He picked up on my self doubt saying there’s not much you can do when they’re in the water, you first have to get them to the beach.

All it takes is one kind word that you don’t often get from some official that can change the way you feel or don’t feel for months after an incident. So I really have to thank Chief Adam for that humane gesture.

I thought it was ok and I actually went back in the water for a few minutes, just to kind of shake it off as they were wrapping things up with Larry. Some of the cops were still asking me and anyone else around there questions. I got in my car feeling ok, especially after I talked with some of Larry’s friends and everybody said they were glad he got such a good last wave.

Driving home I suddenly burst into tears and just wept. I pulled my car over and I wrote down all the things I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Then I wrote of many of the things I wanted to stop doing. Many of the relatively meaningless daily tasks and exercises I was doing each day that weren’t that fulfilling.

I vowed to free up more time to do the things that I love to do. You never know when your last day is or when you’re going to get your last ride.

At least Larry Kong left this earth doing what he truly loved, being out in nature on the water riding the playful energy of a wave from our creator. Not a bad way to enter paradise. 

Blessings Larry.


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Written by JerryJackintell

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  1. Beautifully written. Yes. Being so close to death, especially the death of one you know, will always trigger a deep sense of your own mortality. Jerry, I am glad for Larry that you were there for him at the end and did your best for him. It’s no mean feat keeping one’s cool during such a calamity. And thank gawd for people like Estabrook who know what to do and say in times of crisis. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  2. Jerry,
    another thing you did right was to give the distress signal. I was up in one of the buildings watching what looked like an odd thing happening in the water, but couldn’t really tell what was going on. As soon as I saw you wave your arms I called 911. Though I am sure that it felt like longer, the fire trucks were there in the time it took me to get to the stairway, about 4 minutes or so.

  3. Jerry,
    When you were needed, you were there, doing your best, trying your hardest. All we can do, you did
    Sometimes when people die it’s a blessing that there was a witness to their last moments. His family and friends can take comfort in knowing everything that could be done was done.
    I wish you peace. I hope you realize what a courageous, good, caring man you are.

  4. This made me tear up. Thank you for pulling him in and doing all you could do to save him. Thank you for helping him. As a fellow surfer and water person, I would hope that the other folks out there would look out for me in the same way. And thank you, also, to the person watching from the window who called 911. It takes a village. Long may you ride, Jerry.

  5. This is beautiful and heartbreaking I did not know it was Larry who had passed …he left an indelible mark in my life in the water, a truly generous and kind friend. A true waterman. He said once that when he goes he would go in the ocean. And he did. But way too soon…you will be missed Larry❤️ thank you Jack for all your efforts and capturing his last moments, it’s how he would have wanted it.❤️

  6. Thank you, Jerry, for helping my cousin Larry. His family is shocked and deeply saddened at his untimely departure, but one thing is clear: he had a strong community of friends and he was indeed doing exactly what he loved. Thank you for being there for him. I too have been present as a soul lifts from a friend, and it is an experience that changes one forever, creating an introspection, depth and clarity in your view of life from here forwards. Please take good care of yourself.

  7. Oh, thank you so very much for writing to Edhat, sharing what happened, sharing your feelings, sharing your appreciation of Fire Chief Estabrook. May we all have such as you and Chief nearby when the inevitable comes. A dear friend, my only and last longtime close friend, we shared so very much for so very long, recently died after suffering a cruel stroke. She was on Vancouver Island, I, here – and could not get there. She filled my thoughts every day, I felt I suffered for her, until one day, the hurt feeling left — I got an email later from her son that she had passed that morning – for the first time I use that verb. What you did was so wonderful for your friend, and so wonderful to share with us. May all be well for you and yours!

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