Keala Kennelly Gruesomely Injured in Teahupoo Wipeout

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Hawaiian Keala Kennelly is known for her toughness, but the wipeout she took during last week’s epically huge swell at Teahupoo would turn most people to mush. Not Keala: She characteristically brushed off her face-first bounce onto the nasty coral of the Tahitian reef, posting a gnarly picture to her Facebook page with the comment, “Sorry if you were eating dinner. (I look much better now I promise).”

The swell pounded women’s charger Maya Gabeira (bleeding ear drum) and current number two male surfer Jordy Smith (dislocated rib), but Kenelly’s injury was by far the most nauseating. She was taken to the hospital in Papeete and had coral removed from her face and skull, then received 30 stitches on her face and 10 in her scalp. Shorty after that, she was back in Hawaii at the farmer’s market as if it was nothing but a flesh wound. Which, in a way, it was…but as they say, that’ll leave a mark.

The photo of her injury is below. If you have a weak stomach, don’t look.


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Keala, who in addition to be tough and fearless, isn’t self conscious. She’s just posted additional pictures from her accident.

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{ 8 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Kim Kircher

    Okay. I looked (albeit briefly) at this photo yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m an EMT and so this kind of thing shouldn’t gross me out. But I’ve always been better at looking at gore in person, rather than in photos. Not sure why. Perhaps in person my Little Engine That Could gets all revved up, knowing that it’s me that needs to get this bloody mess patched up. In photos, the person never gets any better. Keala is still as bloody and ripped open as she was yesterday when I looked. Jeez. Need I even mention how lucky and brave and tough she is? I supposed I don’t.

  • Lladnar Nivep

    Wow. That is a shocking injury yet apparently (hopefully) no skull or brain injury? She is not only a courageous athlete but a very lucky one at that.

  • David Harden

    She must be the type of strong-charactered girl who came out of the water with that HORRIBLE gaping wound telling people “I’m OK! I’m OK!” Well, thank goodness she is strong! Hopefully, she’ll be fine, but that’s gotta hurt!

  • Jerry Irwin

    Keala is really lucky that she didn’t lose the eye that is right next to the deep wound.
    I think this one will definitely leave a mark Keala.

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