HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — An Army special operator and recent amputee lost his prosthetic leg during a surfing session Saturday afternoon north of the Huntington Beach Pier and he thought it was lost sea. Jake Hamitt teaches wounded war heroes how to surf and we ran his story on CBS2 Tuesday night hoping it would generate some clues.
Over the weekend, a couple miles from where Jake’s special surf leg sank, lifelong surfer Doug Neal spotted something strange in the crystal blue water. A 7-pound carbon fiber prosthetic leg.
“I was just about to dive into the shore break and I look down and I see this leg,” Neal said.
Neal said the leg surfaced in the low tide in the whitewater and he grabbed it. “I was just thinking somebody is missing this. It is valuable to somebody and I’d love to get it back to them.”
Hamitt is the ambassador for Operation Surf and was in the middle of his session when something went wrong.
“We were paddling out. Waves were pretty good. Just catching a few waves…my leg was getting loose,” Hamitt recalled. “Leg came off. I didn’t have leash on my board. Five hundred plus people on the beach right there. So I made a decision. If the board hits someone or some little kid or lose the leg. Grabbed the board. Leg came off. Went back to try to find it. It sunk real fast.”
Neal tried to contact lifeguards but it was a holiday weekend. Then Tuesday night he saw Jake Hamitt on our broadcast talking about his visit to Huntington Beach as an ambassador with Operation Surf. The mystery of the missing leg was solved.
The two were introduced in Huntington Beach Wednesday where Neal returned the leg and they shared a special moment.
“I wonder if he was freaked out,” said Hamitt. “What was going through his mind? Of anywhere, I mean the ocean is so huge, so massive, to find this one little thing in that huge expanse out there is pretty amazing.”
Perfect timing as Hamitt had a trip planned to leave Thursday for the U.K. to surf with wounded vets there.