This morning as I was going about my normal Facebook check, Facebook showed me what happened on this day 8 years ago and I was reminded of that one time where I came the closest to death. Funny and oddly enough, it happened during a photoshoot I was doing for a bathing suit line at the beach, back in the days when I used to model. So I figured it was an interesting story to tell and also a little warning for all you beach lovers.
8 years ago, life seemed to be so much easier. I was basically a kid, who was engaged (never ended up getting married) to the love of her life. I was modeling from age 16-19 and then got sick and bored of it as I realized it wasn’t as glamorous and fun as it looked. Then at the age of 22, I went back to model to make some extra cash. I was offered a modeling gig for a bathing suit line that would take place in Dana Point/OC, which is about an hour and a half from Los Angeles.
The photoshoot had 3 photographers, another model and me.
We first started off at one location, but it was high tide, which in surfing language meant the water was coming really high on shore. I always was a person who believed in signs and intuition, I guess you can say I got my first warning while trying to walk back to the car from our location. I was soaked by a big wave that got me so wet, that my whole back including my hair were wet and I broke my flip flop. For some odd reason, I ignored that sign and went off with the crew to another location.
When we arrived at the second location the tide was really high at this point and it was almost sunset time. We had to get the photoshoot going ASAP, so we started shooting and everything went great at first. There were these big rocks in the ocean that looked beautiful in the photos. They weren’t you average rocks though, they were sharp rocks with a bunch of little rocks on them everywhere, which really hurt your feet getting on them and you couldn’t do it with flip flops.
As we were shooting there was a couple getting their engagement photos taken as well, when out of nowhere, a huge wave came and got them and the photographer. I guess you could call this warning #2. The photographer ruined 3 cameras that were worth over $10,000 and the girl had her leg cut open. I was like holy shit! This is crazy! Clearly, a bad day to shoot, but for some odd reason, we kept shooting.
The other girl I was shooting with got these amazing photos on the same rock with the beautiful sunset setting behind her and I wanted those same kinds of photos. So I did, I got on that stupid rock like an idiot. It was super hard to get on the rock like I said earlier because it had all those small rocks all over it. The rock itself was about 5 feet high and 20 feet long and in front of it was a mountain.
Things seemed to be going pretty well at first. As it started to get darker the waves kept getting bigger and washing all over the rock I was on. I was beginning to get nervous. Then out of nowhere, it happened!
FINAL WARNING…Too Late
As I kept looking back and forth to see if a big wave was coming, meanwhile trying to pose for the photos, I saw a big fast wave coming. It was all happening too fast to even react or to get off the rock. I saw this huge wave coming towards me and there was nothing I could do but pray for the best. I quickly tried to bend over and put my hand on the rock to get better balance, but it was too late. The wave came shooting at me at a crazy speed.
I lost my grip and as my hand slipped, it was smashed into the rock, then my knee and I started to fall on all the rocks under the water without a moment to breathe. I kept slipping and hitting more rocks and couldn’t grab on to anything when BOOM, another wave came and I couldn’t gasp for air. I thought for sure, this is it. It’s over. I’m seriously going to die. My life flashed right in front of my eyes and in seconds I thought of all my family members. My little sister was only a baby then, she was 3 years old and the light of my life and I was so sad to not be able to see her grow up.
I thought I was going to die not from the waves that were hitting me around the rocks like a piece of paper, but because I just couldn’t breathe.
Then thank G*d, I was able to get a moment to take my head up for air and the photographer ran towards me, with everyone on the beach in complete shock. I can easily say that he saved my life. He grabbed me by the arm, which was totally all cut up. He didn’t even know how to take me out of the water. I couldn’t even walk, I was shocked and completely covered in blood. The moment I was a little outside of the water, people started rushing to me and trying to help me get out of the water, as my feet weren’t able to stand or take a single step. I looked down at my feet and saw that my knee was pouring with blood and a huge part of my left foot had skin hanging off it from the bottom of my foot. Gross I know…SORRY.
They sat me down on the sand, as I was shocked from both trauma and because I was freezing. My head kept going back, which in reality was because I was going to faint, but at the time I thought that if I closed my eyes I would die, so I kept trying to hold up my head. I couldn’t even look at my body to try and figure out what had just happened to me. They tried to give me water and I didn’t want it. I was just trying to understand what the hell had happened. The main pain I was having was coming from my right hand, it was super swollen. I couldn’t move my fingers and thought for sure, I had broken my hand.
The people around me started asking me questions to make sure I was OK, “What’s your name? Are you OK? Who should we call? Do you want to go to the hospital?”. I had no idea what to do next. When I finally got some water, I wanted them to call my (now ex) fiance because I didn’t want to scare my parents. The girl/model who was taking care of me the most, dialed my fiance’s number and handed me the phone, which completely dropped out of my hands. I couldn’t move my fingers and didn’t even know it. She held the phone to my ear and I burst into tears and tried explaining to him what had just happened. He immediately dropped what he was doing and headed over to me. I also asked him to talk to my parents and tell them what happened.
While this was happening, someone ran upstairs to the hotel above the beach to get some help. I was completely scared to go to the hospital. I have never been a person who can handle blood, hospitals and surgery very well at all. The girl who I was with, her mother was a nurse and told me I had to go to the hospital, otherwise, my injuries could get infected and become worse. I REALLY didn’t want to go ’cause I was scared for my life but ended up agreeing to go after everyone else told me to do it.
Someone from the hotel’s medical staff came down to get me because it was a LONG way up. He had no idea how to grab me or pick me up because there were big cuts and blood everywhere. No matter what side he had me on, it hurt SO BAD! He also put one of those emergency space blankets on me, but I was still freezing and in so much pain.
One of the photographers dropped me off at the hospital and they all waited with me until my fiance came. I walked into the hospital’s emergency room, barefoot, in a bathing suit, wet and bleeding everywhere. Someone ran to me with a wheelchair and put some blankets on me and put me in a semi-private waiting room by myself.
I had still refused to see all my cuts because I knew if I looked directly at them I would probably faint. I felt the pain but had no idea how bad it was. I decided to take my cellphone at the time, which was a SideKick and take a photo of my arm that hurt the most. When I saw the photos, I nearly fainted just like I thought I would. I couldn’t believe this was MY arm!
My ex-fiance just walked in! Thank G*d! He was completely shocked to see me this way, but tried to make it seem like it wasn’t that bad, but I still remember the look on his face. The moment he got there, the doctors were ready to take me in. I was scared for my life.
They rolled me in with my wheelchair, put me on the hospital bed and told me to wait. While we both waited, I realized I had to pee, probably from how scared I was. So my ex took me to the bathroom and as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, I was shocked! I burst into crazy tears. This was the first time I actually got to see what I looked like and couldn’t believe I was looking at myself. I couldn’t believe that this was my body for now and the future of my life. I was mortified!
Luckily for me, I didn’t break anything and hadn’t got slammed into the mountain that was in front of the big rock. I was also happy that I didn’t get hit in the head and that nothing happened to my face and back, that’s all I kept saying to myself.
However, the back of my right arm was REALLY bad because this wasn’t a normal rock, it had so many small sharp rocks on it. I had cuts that were over 9″ inches long, my elbow was cut deep, which I probably should have gotten stitches for, but refused to. I still have a pretty visible scar there now. My stomach had a cut on it. My left thigh had a HUGE scar on it, it was probably a foot long and 6-7″ inches wide. It looked like someone took a knife and stabbed me alongside about 10-15 times. My knee was cut open, the top and bottom of both my feet were also cut badly. The worst was my left foot, which had a huge part of skin hanging off it, which was ripped off by the rocks and it was super deep. However, both my feet had cuts and my toes. Oh, yes, and my right hand, the one I tried to grab the rock with had cuts all over it. I guess you can say, I was a hot mess.
The worst part about this was the fact that because this happened at the beach, a lot of sand got stuck to my blood and the salt water dried it off, so the only way to remove it was to scrub it off!!! Ughhhh so painful! The doctors tried and I started screaming and freaking out! They told me it would get infected and stay stuck there forever, but at the time I really didn’t care. It was too painful to handle. Imagine someone trying to scrub off an open wound on you! Ugh, terrible!
My ex-fiance ended up taking me home, probably one of the longest drives of my life. I was so scared to show my parents what had happened to me. They freaked out when they heard the whole story. I was happy they weren’t there to see me like that. For the next month and a half, I couldn’t walk. Walking to something as simple as the bathroom felt like I was walking on broken pieces of glass. Sadly this all happened a week before my birthday. I ended up having my mom and ex help me take off most of the sand, but there are still pieces of sand in my arm today and my skin has just grown over it, but I can still see it if I look at it.
Needless to say, I am alive, which is more important than anything else. I was scared of the beach for a long time after that, I can’t understand how something so beautiful and peaceful can be so bad at the same time. I loved the beach and always have. My Hebrew name, Hofit, means the beach and it took some time, but I came around to it and got over my beach fears. I quit modeling after that, as I felt like it was some sort of sign from G*d to stop modeling.
Sometimes it’s amazing how little control you have over your own life. Everything can be so great one minute and then things can happen that are so out of your control in a matter of seconds. We always seem to think that we as people are powerful and we are, but at the same time, we are just a small little piece of this big world and in reality don’t really have much control on this world and nature.
For anyone going to the beach with big rocks in it, please be careful. I was very, very blessed/”lucky”, but I know that many times things as small as these can end in death. Be safe, take care of yourself and always follow your intuition. I love you guys. Have an amazing rest of your summer. xoxo