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Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       04-24-2007, 8:55 AM Reply   
In light of the Caleb Willis tragedy, I can't help but feel like the risk for Wakeboarding is much higher than I ever imagined.

How many of you have asked yourself, "What's the worst that can happen," just before trying a new trick?

I'm willing to take an occasional concussion, stitches to my face, a knock out, and a blown knee (thankfully the last two haven't happened yet). But I feel like the wakeboard risk factor just met the stakes of motocross, which I considered to be a far more dangerous sport. You can die from a hard crash, and it doesnít have to be the result of a face-down, knock out.

I would like to learn raleys this year (I say this every year) and several other new tricks. It will be impossible not to think about these consequences.

Naive maybe...but I thought these circumstances were a little more controllable. In the past when there was a Wakeboarding fatality, there was some circumstance that allowed me to distance myself. But this kid was just doing a raley!
Old    Zoah (zoah)      Join Date: Nov 2006       04-24-2007, 9:02 AM Reply   
I agree.

When a kid got killed this year riding park in Colorado snowboarding I had that same sobering thought.

Old    Chuck P (cheeseman)      Join Date: Oct 2005       04-24-2007, 9:14 AM Reply   

My kids are trying all kinds of stuff and from a parents point of view I worry all the time. It is not embraced very much, but I make my kids wear a helmet because I have seen and heard too many stories about simple tricks turn disastrous.
Old    Clay Fraley (clay_fraley)      Join Date: Jul 2006       04-24-2007, 9:21 AM Reply   
I agree, its hard not to think about what can happen, but thats what I try to get out of my head. If you can get that out of your head that will deffinately help you progress in your riding. And what happend with Caleb was a freak accident, and could happen again, but probably and hopefully wont.
Old    Nacho (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004       04-24-2007, 9:29 AM Reply   
yep. a simple fall can turn out disastrous. I worry about it more when i'm tired. last nite for example, went in for a simple HS 180. got turned around too soon and bailed. landed face down in the trough, came out of the board and my jacket almost came off. i just chilled for a minute with my noggin throbbing.

Whether its an unfamiliar trick or just not being 100% focussed, it doesn't take much for things to get dangerous. i've also said before, they didn't have a jacket on. or they hit a submerged tree/stump or whatever. but this is different. definitely eye-opening. be careful.
Would a helmet have helped?

(Message edited by denverd1 on April 24, 2007)
Old    Kellan Scheiris (shavis)      Join Date: Aug 2005       04-24-2007, 9:34 AM Reply   
But in all fairness....look at the risk we take driving everyday....we put our lives in other peoples hands everyday. I think that with wakeboarding, you always know it is in your mind but that risk i think is what makes it can sit in the boat all day and worry about it and what will you have will be alive but not truly living. When I go I hope it is doing something I love.....maybe not sooner than later....but regardless RIP Caleb....I hope theres wakeboarding in heaven too...
Old    mendo247            04-24-2007, 9:44 AM Reply   
i think about this stuff all the time!! its really slowed my progression... some people give me shizz about it but i can deal with the ribbing.. i just love being behind the boat and havin fun with friends.. you could get hurt riding in a straight or doing a raley.. accidents happen, i guess thats the risk we take every day just getting out of bed..
Old    Caleb Rountree (dlwsrider)      Join Date: Apr 2007       04-24-2007, 9:54 AM Reply   
For a second i thought you were talking about me clay, and i couldnt remember any that i have had lately.

but you have to remember, you can break bones playing golf.

everything has SOME degree of risk, but you cant ever rule out freak accidents.
Old    Jo Shmoe (joeshmoe)      Join Date: Jan 2003       04-24-2007, 10:05 AM Reply   
kellan said"....I hope theres wakeboarding in heaven too..."
wakeboarding is heaven!
Old    billy foulds (mcwakerider)      Join Date: Dec 2006       04-24-2007, 10:12 AM Reply   
The thing i hate the most is the idea of getting hurt early on and not being able to ride all summer long... definately suck... We all wanna learn new tricks and progress... But whoever said just going out and having a good time doing the tricks you can do isnt ok? I'd rather ride all season long and not learn new inverts or spins than learn one trick or try and learn a trick and get hurt... and not be able to ride all year
Old    Joe Westfield (pogi)      Join Date: May 2006       04-24-2007, 10:37 AM Reply   
Does anyone know if Caleb had landed many raleys in the past and just screwed up on one, or was he in the process of learning how to do one?
Old    Alpha_Beast (socalwakepunk)      Join Date: Dec 2002       04-24-2007, 10:48 AM Reply   
This was not a new trick for Caleb, he was an exceptional rider. Even more impressive was the fact that he, and his friends at Spring Valley Lake progressed so fast in way less than perfect conditions (SVL not known as a glassy piece of water).
Old    DRA            04-24-2007, 10:48 AM Reply   
As sad as the unfortunate loss of Caleb, I think it brings out a lot of reality of the sport we are involved with and the high risk we all take even with what seems to be a typical or easy crash. Just take a moment to think about the things that happen when you hit the water at speed. Water is so less forgiving then concrete or dirt. The amount of force applied to your body parts during a crash is incredible and the fact that there are less severe injuries is remarkable.
Old    Alpha_Beast (socalwakepunk)      Join Date: Dec 2002       04-24-2007, 10:56 AM Reply   
"Water is so less forgiving then concrete or dirt"

Please expalin? At times water can be very hard, but we do not do backflips off of our docks onto concrete or dirt.
Old    Dave Burns (dbjts)      Join Date: Nov 2003       04-24-2007, 11:09 AM Reply   
Concrete is pretty forgiving for the first hour, but once itís set itís a bastard to land on in my experience
Old    KaNi (j3t_m3ch)      Join Date: Jun 2006       04-24-2007, 11:37 AM Reply   
This is a good thread JROD. I think all of us cringe when we hear of something (like what happened to Caleb) happening in the wakeboarding community. It's hard not to take a step back and think about it and way the risks. But I agree with what several people have said and it applies to snow, wake, dirt......fear determines how fast you progress in a sport and when accidents like this happen it's hard to keep it out of your head. Especially when your trying to learn all of these tricks....RIP Caleb.
Old    M-Dizzle (liquidmx)      Join Date: Jun 2005       04-24-2007, 11:52 AM Reply   
I agree with Kellan's post. The reality is you never really know when your gonna go. As in this specific case it was FAR too soon. When I am pondering things like this I think of those people who live their lives in fear and those who are taken too soon. Some people who are taken to soon may have lived a much fuller life than those who lived to be old and grey. IMHO age is not neccesarily a factor in defining "fullness of life". Life is all about experiences and memories; If we take anything with us when we go its those memories and experiences. I read something a long time ago that said "someday your friends and family will be standing over your remains to mourn your passing. There will be two numbers and a dash between them; the only thing that matters to them is that dash."

Although I never met Caleb I feel quite a bit of empathy for those who did. Accidents like this are sobering reminders that life is a fragile thing. I would also like to think that those who have been involved in accidents like this would be sitting up above looking down with the hopes that we would learn from the accident; but still continue to enjoy our sport (and lives) to its fullest potential.

Overall, I believe in living life to its fullest; out of respect for those who were unable to.

P.S. If I said anything offensive in any way (about Caleb and or implying his wishes or those of others) those were not my intentions. I am sure this is a very emotional time for anyone who knew him. My condolences, Rest in Peace.
Old    Rich Dykmans (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       04-24-2007, 12:13 PM Reply   
No factual basis here but I've always felt there were certain tricks like the Raley that are just plain more hazardous due to their hi-speed nature. I have heard more people telling me they have knocked themselves out doing raley based tricks then any thing else.

If you jump off the GG bridge (or any point high enough to reach terminal velocity - a little over 100mph for a human body I believe) it's about a 99% certainty that you will break your neck no matter how you enter the water. Water is obviously more forgiving then concrete but only to a point.

Statistically speaking one is more likely to get killed in a car crash then wakeboarding but that doesn't add much comfort when you read about someone like poor Caleb. My heart goes out to his parents and family.

But it's the way we are all built, you go from from the indestuctible "No Fear" of youth, to middle age when you start saying to yourself "is the pain really worth the gain" to old age when the answer becomes "no it's not!"
Old    Billy (woreout)      Join Date: Aug 2006       04-24-2007, 12:19 PM Reply   
J-Rod I know what your thinking. When I was a kid, a friend of mine Jimmy McCormick died while waterski jumping.Jimmy caught the side curtain of the jump and died of head injuries when he slammed into the surface of the jump. He and I went to school together as well as skied together. I was afraid for a while, especially when 1 month later I did the same thing but just ended up with a broken ankle. If it wasnt for my Dads support and get back on the horse theory, I would have probably quit skiing. Calebs death was certainly a freak accident and not the norm. Life is full of surprises and you just have to live it to the fullest and enjoy every second of it.
Old    Dan Lennox (woohoo)      Join Date: Jun 2006       04-24-2007, 12:50 PM Reply   
Something like this should make you stop and think. It also makes you realize you can go at any time and should live life to its fullest.An accident like this should make you think, but not stop doing something it should make you want to do it more because who knows how many chances to do it you will get.

RIP Caleb.
Old    Cliff Griffin (seattle)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-24-2007, 12:54 PM Reply   
I thought I was invincible until last year when I dislocated two disks in my neck. My doctor told me sports like wakeboarding often have a cumulative affect on your body, and you may not know you have a problem until something finally gives out from repeated abuse. For me, it was from face planting over and over again trying to learn simple toeside grabs.

At the time I was told the damage could be permanent, and I had to wait and see if it got better. If physical therapy didn't work, they were talking about surgery. I was out for three extremely scary, and painful months until my neck eventually realigned on it's own.

Shortly after my neck issue eased, I went back out on the water prior to the time frame my doctor had laid out. Sure enough, by favoring my right side (where I had incurred some short term nerve damage from the dislocated disks) I fell hard on my left side. This time I had the pleasure of incurring a torn left rotator cuff.

Nearly a year later, and I'm finally getting back what I lost on the water and in the gym.
Needless to say, I have this past years experiences in the back of my head when I'm boarding nowadays.
Old    Jon (jon4pres)      Join Date: May 2004       04-24-2007, 1:11 PM Reply   
To live you have to take a chance of dying. In everything that we do there is a chance that you could dye. Some activities are definetly more dangerous than others but if you try to always protect yourself from death you will never know what life is really all about.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Caleb. My prayers are with you.
Old    billy foulds (mcwakerider)      Join Date: Dec 2006       04-24-2007, 1:21 PM Reply   
I totally agree with living life to the fullest, but at the same time, are some risks worth the reward? I guess it all depends on your take on things... I've had a lot of good friends die in ways which they shouldnt have... One died on a street bike doing a wheelie... And another died in a canal by drowning after partying all night. The guy he was with ran of the road into the canal and he got out and left my budddy who couldnt get out...Ive seen what it does to friends and family... I never wanna put my family through that.

Prayers go out to Caleb's family...
Old    Jeff Baker (innov8)      Join Date: May 2005       04-24-2007, 1:52 PM Reply   
I fully agree with Rich on the raley based tricks.

The raley for one is a very high speed 100% committed trick that if goes wrong there are extreme consequences. Although I think in Caleb's case this was a freak accident with him breaking his neck, it still goes to show how dangerous this trick can be. I could not tell you how many riders that I have seen/heard getting hurt while learning/throwing a raley.

Like I said before Caleb will be missed dearly and my thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.
God Bless
Old    walt            04-24-2007, 5:09 PM Reply   
Your odd's are far better on your wakeboard than they are on your street bike.

Freak accidents can happen doing anything including crossing the street.
Old    nwwakerider            04-24-2007, 5:14 PM Reply   
does anyone feel that this will have a negative impact on wakeboarding? maybe people will decide not to try it? or maybe even parents wont let their kids participate?

RIP Caleb
Old    Rich Dykmans (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       04-24-2007, 5:19 PM Reply   
"Your odd's are far better on your wakeboard than they are on your street bike. "

Walt said it, I was thinking it . . . . . got to go with the odds!
Old    mike hillard (otiswunguy)      Join Date: Apr 2002       04-24-2007, 5:23 PM Reply   
We all have to die sometime. Of all the ways that I could go....wakeboarding would be my choice. I would be so mad if I just had a stupid heart attack at work or something. The flames that burn the brightest usually burn out first unfortunately.
Old    billy foulds (mcwakerider)      Join Date: Dec 2006       04-24-2007, 7:26 PM Reply   
i know the odds are far better on a wakeboard then a bike, but the point i was tryin to make is that my friends died in a way that didnt need to happen. People do raleys all day long and i know this, but i was just trying to make the point of risk and reward factor....

U know what i mean?
Old    Erik (nils_lars)      Join Date: Jun 2006       04-24-2007, 7:48 PM Reply   
I recently bought a Pro Tech Ace wakehelmet and when I took it to the lake by the time it was my turn to ride I had heard so much about being a wuss for needing a helmet in water that I didnt use it and after a particularly hard wipe out I had a head ache for couple days and felt stupid for letting peoples opinons change my better judgement and no matter what I may look like as the only guy on the lake in a helmet I am gonna wear it from now on.
Old    Alpha_Beast (socalwakepunk)      Join Date: Dec 2002       04-24-2007, 8:56 PM Reply   
FYI - Caleb died of a neck injury, not a head injury. A helmet would not have saved him, may increase the risk of neck injuries (this is only informational, please do not read this as either pro or con helmet).

(Message edited by socalwakepunk on April 24, 2007)
Old    Clubjoe (clubjoe)      Join Date: Sep 2005       04-24-2007, 9:16 PM Reply   
Sometimes you gotta be a fatalist in moderation to really enjoy life......BTW, great post J-Rod...

Breaking my ankle put the boogy-man in my head when I ride, but being a "sort-of" adrenaline junkie has at least gotten me used to being stiff and sore....I figure all I can do is try to stay on this side of the stupid line, be aware of my limitations and try not to overthink the bad luck card.......So far so good....
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       04-24-2007, 10:23 PM Reply   
Great posts everyone. I was worried that people wouldn't want to talk about this.

The street bike is something I need to "live life to its fullest," along with dirt biking, snowboarding, and whatever else I take on next.
But, I do have my limits with all of these sports. I always thought of wakeboarding as the one sport where you could try pretty much anything without risking more than a serious injury. Not the case.

Good stuff, Matt.
Old    billy foulds (mcwakerider)      Join Date: Dec 2006       04-24-2007, 10:44 PM Reply   
how do you distinguish limits from danger...? Know what i mean? You could be so good at something and a freak thing happens.... you never know what is going to happen. I guess life is all about living it to the fullest. Otherwise live in a bubble huh? Just try and be as safe as possible...
Old    Cliff Griffin (seattle)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-25-2007, 7:41 AM Reply   
I wish I was in my twenties again, and I had no responsibilities to anyone other than myself. Alas at 40+ the only perspective I can provide is from a husband/father point of view.

At some point living life to the fullest, and taking an all or nothing attitude becomes plain selfish. When you've got a wife, and children, and you get seriously hurt, your affecting them as well as yourself. Nobody cares that you were going all out and enjoying life when you can't provide for your family.

Old    Eddy Celis (bughunter)      Join Date: Nov 2001       04-25-2007, 8:23 AM Reply   
My hart hurts for Caleb's family, the worst of tragedies that can happen to a mom or dad.

I'm with you Cliff.
Add to that the worry that it might happen to a son/daughter or friend and it gets even more uncomfortable.
But, isn't it just the danger, that attracts us a bit ? I think that is where J-Rod's post came from. We can live with the occasional bad fall and injuries... but would we want to keep doing it when there is a good chance of dying ?
Old    Eddy Celis (bughunter)      Join Date: Nov 2001       04-25-2007, 8:26 AM Reply   
My hart hurts for Caleb's family, the worst of tragedies that can happen to a mom or dad.

I'm with you Cliff.
Add to that the worry that it might happen to a son/daughter or friend and it gets even more uncomfortable.
But, isn't it just the danger, that attracts us a bit ? I think that is where J-Rod's post came from. We can live with the occasional bad fall and injuries... but would we want to keep doing it if this kind of sad stories was more frequent.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       04-25-2007, 8:30 AM Reply   
Cliff, great post. Last night I had a similar post typed up, but I deleted. I was surprised no one had taken it there yet.

Anyone feel guilty or selfish at times for risking your well being, know that living life to its fullest could take from someone else's?

I rarely feel guilty, but I'm the first to admit my selfishness.
Old    Spin2Win (spin2win)      Join Date: Mar 2006       04-25-2007, 8:39 AM Reply   
J-Rod great post. I think about that a lot. last year I was trying raleys and ended up in a huge back roll back flop and I knocked myself out. It was at my bachlor party. After I got married I broke my chin on a ts off axis 5 with my new wife there. As I was in the hospital getting all fixed up I relized how selfish I was. B/C I still have to bring home the bacon and no longer is it myself. As far as Caleb goes I cant even conceptulize what his family is going through. Even though they say he died doing what he loved, I am sure he loved his family more. There is no way tpo prevent death but Ill think twice before doing a big new trick. Doesnt mean I wont but I will "try to walk before I can run."
Old    Jon (jon4pres)      Join Date: May 2004       04-25-2007, 9:00 AM Reply   
I definetly think about my family when I am involved in anything. Right now my wife is in school and I we are relying on my salary to make it. Her father died when she was young and I know how much he missed out and how hard it was on her that her dad wasn't around for all of the big events in her life.

I am not a good rider by any means. I think it is important to have fun in life though. You have to do what makes you happy and try to reduce the risks involved as much as possible. The things that I am the most concerned about are the things that I can not controll that is why I will never own a street bike, I know I could ride one safely and enjoy it but you just never know when someone else is going to do something stupid.
Old    Dennis (denwbaseball)      Join Date: Apr 2007       04-25-2007, 9:04 AM Reply   
Being very very new to this sport I joined this forum to meet new people and learn as much as possible about wakeboarding. I read a lot of the posts but don't respond to much. But being a newbie I think this will hurt the sport some. Its not going to stop me from doing it anymore but it will stop me from trying to do tricks that could get me really hurt. I understand that just putting the board on and getting pulled you can get hurt, but after seeing the topic where people posted pictures of there injuries and then this topic I am not going to try to stretch my boundries so I can limit the risk I'm taking while out on the water.
Old    sean smethers (seansmitty42)      Join Date: Apr 2006       04-25-2007, 10:39 AM Reply   
i have not read this whole post because im hiding from my boss lol. with any extreme sport or sport in general, if your scared of getting hurt, then your not 100 percent focused. i used to race motocross and i would get nervous about what could happen, especially after i broke my collar bone, which came from being scared. my coach and my dad told me, being nervous is different then being scared, if your nervous you are focused and being nervous is normal being scared will get you hurt
Old    Ken (ghostrider_2)      Join Date: Aug 2004       04-25-2007, 12:33 PM Reply   
just my 2 cents, I will still teach my son how to board, when you look at other sports as simple as high school football, there are very serious injurys and even paralize/death. Everything thing we do has risk, this is just something we as boarders have taken for granted somewhat. Ya we get injured but very/extremely rarely hear of death.

Yes its always in my head when trying to learn my backroll or tantrum, mainly because I have kids. I hate my mind screwing with me but hey I agree we don't need to be mr can do it all watch me behind the boat. I sometimes enjoy just riding around at a slow speed and working on the basic's. Just as long as you are having a good time, its not about whos better than who, its about who is enjoying themselves and their family/friends...
Old    wakelvr            04-25-2007, 1:13 PM Reply   
Right now I am struggling with how much being a mom has changed my attitude towards taking unnecessary risks. In addition, my husband got hurt last year when he fell off a dirt bike. He required surgery (again) and he was ordered to stay on crutches for 5 weeks with little weight bearing. I knew it would be a tough time for him, myself and our son but I had NO IDEA just how hard. The emotional impact that it had on our two year old was pretty harsh. Dad pretty much went from super hero to sorry son, can't carry you, can't chase you, can't take you to the park, can't kick the ball around with you for 5 weeks. It was very hard...
Old    swass            04-25-2007, 1:49 PM Reply   
He's two already? Jeez. Tempus fugit!

How's Evil doing, anyway?

(Message edited by swass on April 25, 2007)
Old    Jo Shmoe (joeshmoe)      Join Date: Jan 2003       04-25-2007, 1:51 PM Reply   
jon said,"but you just never know when someone else is going to do something stupid"
when your on a bike, it doesn't have to be another person that kills you, a relative of a friend died last year on a bike when a deer ran out of nowhere and killed them, you always hear of cars and trucks hitting deer, but a murdercycle is no match for a deer
Old    wakelvr            04-25-2007, 2:15 PM Reply   
Swass, yes, time flies!!! I'm doing great thanks for asking, lol:-)
Old    Nick Farrell (nickdakoolkat)      Join Date: Sep 2005       04-25-2007, 2:20 PM Reply   
just wondering is there any video of Caleb riding on here?? It might be kinda cool for somebody to put something together in is memory
Old    ryan pass (lrbs_xstar)      Join Date: Mar 2007       04-25-2007, 2:34 PM Reply   
this really makes me think.....but i heard a phrase that keeps me going and now ill share it with the guys that havent heard it yet..."to be good at something you have to be willing to take the worst thing that could happen to you"
Old    Rich Dykmans (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       04-25-2007, 5:29 PM Reply   
Cliff, I wish I was your age!

Funny I remember telling my parents that I would rather die then quit surfing, yet I haven't been out in the water in about 15 years (in spite of the fact that I live in Santa Cruz.)

Time marches on, all we can hope/pray for is that we all get our share.
Old    supra for me (supra24ssv)      Join Date: Mar 2006       04-25-2007, 6:09 PM Reply   
I did not know caleb, but I am very sorry for him, and his family. I do not consider myself an adrenaline junky and I have never excelled at extreme sports either. I am a decent wakeboarder, decent wakesurfer and that is ok with me. I have alot of fun when I ride and often wish I could be as good as many of the guys I ride with. I guess it will not happen b/c I am scared of the big one. Some people either don't think of the risk and others believe the reward is worth it. Not me, I love wakeboarding, but not near as much as my 3 yr old girl waking me up with a kiss.
Old    Jo Shmoe (joeshmoe)      Join Date: Jan 2003       04-26-2007, 9:16 AM Reply   
rich, old surfers never die, they just get a longboard
Old    Rich Dykmans (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       04-26-2007, 9:35 AM Reply   
"rich, old surfers never die, they just get a longboard"

Joe, believe me we are not the only ones that have figured that out!

If I can rent a set of new arms with that longboard maybe there's hope.


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