Surfing Champ Shaun Tomson Recounts Losing Son To ‘Choking Game’
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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — World-champion surfer Shaun Tomson is sharing a message he hopes will save someone else’s life.
The message? To think twice.
Since losing his son in 2006, the former surfing star is urging today’s youth not to succumb to peer pressure. It’s the one lesson he didn’t get a chance to teach his own son, Matthew, who died while playing the “choking game.”
The dangerous game involves a kid who is choked until he blacks out. This often occurs with help from a belt, tie or assistance from another kid. The act of being choked eventually stops oxygen from traveling to the brain, causing the person to pass out, and in many instances, suffer brain damage … or worse.
He describes the day his son died as one he’ll never forget.
“As a parent, you just can’t grasp it. You just go into shock. It just shuts down. You’re in a state of disbelief,” he explained. “I spoke to Matthew on 24th of April, 2006. Picked up the phone to call my wife. My son, I’ll never forget, picks up the phone. ‘Me Dadda, I want you to listen to this.’ And he reads me this amazing essay that he wrote. I put it in the book.”
Later that same day, Tomson got the feeling something wasn’t right. His wife, Carla, and son were a continent away in South Africa, where Matthew was attending school.
“As I was walking down to the beach, I just had this feeling of unease. Things were too perfect,” he remembers.
Then it happened.
“I got in my car and I got the news from Carla. ‘Matthew’s dead’,” he recalls. “It destroyed us. Destroyed us.”
Tomson says he has authored a new book titled “The Code,” which is specifically aimed at young people. The idea for the book started as a class assignment in which Tomson asked students at Anacapa School to look inside their souls and write 12 lines describing their core values.
“The very first line I get back is from this young girl that says ‘I will always be myself,’” he said.
It’s a message he hopes can save a kid’s life.
“I’m asking you to commit [to] just one thing and that’s [to] think twice. That’s it.
“Two simple words. Think. Twice,” he said.
“You’re gonna have a decision. It’s going to be life and death. The decision is going to be life and death. Right then and there. Your mom is not going to be there. Your dad is not gonna be there. Just think twice.”
To learn more about “The Code” and Tomson, click here.