LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It was the last thing 15-year old Riley Miller expected while surfing small waves with friends from his water polo team at Mater Dei recently. Video taken just south of the Huntington Beach Pier, shows his friend James Stanton nearby, just before Riley fell from the top of a wave, head first into just two feet of water.
“I hit the top of my head and like my whole body just went like gone,” Miller said.
Paralyzed. Face up. Floating. He tried to scream for help.
“I tried to call for Eric and like nothing really came out except for like a muffled noise”
Unable to move — he started to worry — the next set of waves would surely knock him face down.
“I thought this could be the end,” Miller said.
Then he managed to call for Stanton. A junior varsity water polo player and future lifeguard.
Stanton swam to Riley before the next set of waves.
“I was like maybe 15 feet away,” Stanton said. “He was floating on his back, so I reached under his arms, grabbed the neck and held it straight forward.”
Using a technique he learned in junior guards, Stanton dragged Miller to the beach, then flagged down a lifeguard. Miller was carefully loaded onto a stretcher then taken to an ambulance.
Miller’s mom says his whole water polo team began to pray.
Hours later in a hospital bed, Miller regained the use of his arms and legs. And had no serious spinal or neck injuries.
“It was unbelievable he walked away from that,” his mom said.