FLIGHT INTERRUPTED

posted by / Magazine / May 20, 2003

Editor’s note: the following profile by Tim Baker discusses one of Oz’s brightest talents just when he was on the mend and ready to retake the skies. Unfortunately, in the days after publication, Kerr re-injured his leg after competing in the VQS air championships and is once again be out of the water. But if this passage is any indication, nothing’s going to keep Kerr grounded for long.“I just remember lights, diving, and my legs getting clipped, and then just being on the ground going, ‘Holy shit, I got hit by a car!’ And I knew my leg was broken straight away … I crawled to the side of the road and just lay down, and that’s when I kind of passed out.”Josh Kerr had made every airshow final he’d entered over the previous 18 months, and won four of them, including the world championships in 2001, pocketing about $50,000 in prize money along the way. Enough to put a deposit on a brand-new home out the back of Coolangatta, only five minutes drive from the Gold Coast surf. At 18, with a growing repertoire of aerial antics and a rock-solid forehand air 360 that never seemed to let him down, Josh was proving an unstoppable force on the global airshow circuit.

Then, in December 2002, drunk at a party on the North Shore, he wandered along Kam Highway and got cleaned up by a hit-and-run driver. Kelly Slater found him face-down on the side of the road. “I was trying to find a parking spot and there he was, in between a couple of cars, moaning,” {{{recalls}}} Kelly. “I thought it was just a drunk guy. It was, but he was half-conscious, saying his leg hurt and not to move him . . .I didn’t really believe him at first. You’d think someone would be all bloody if he got hit by a car, but he wasn’t. It was all internal. I looked about 20 feet away and there were his sandals.”Josh doesn’t remember too much about that night. “Getting in the ambulance, getting hit up with morphine, then in the hospital with my friends, when I was starting to straighten up and the morphine was kicking in. They reckon I was just being a comedian the whole time in there.”A clean break through his right tibia would mean a predicted six months out of the surf and a serious career setback. How did he feel, having his great competitive roll brought to a halt so swiftly? “It’s still going; it hasn’t finished. I haven’t competed so maybe I’m still on it,” Josh insists . . .

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