LOS ANGELES — When DeWalt Combine misplaced his prosthetic leg whereas paddle-boarding off the coast of Lengthy Seashore, the native Fireplace Division dove proper in to attempt to retrieve it for him.
When rescue divers couldn’t discover it on Sunday, Combine all however gave up hope of ever seeing it once more. He figured it was ensconced on the underside of the ocean, having taken with it any hope he had of competing within the javelin throw on the 2021 Paralympic Video games in Tokyo.
They nonetheless couldn’t discover it on Monday. However, armed with new info on exactly the place Combine was when his leg slipped off, they went out for a 3rd day on Tuesday. Quickly after, one of many divers despatched a message to the Hollywood writer-director-producer’s cellphone.
“He texted us a photograph of the divers popping out of the water with a triumphant fist within the air,” Combine recalled Wednesday, letting unfastened a joyful snort.
And in one of many divers’ different palms was Combine’s lacking carbon fiber and titanium leg. What’s extra, it was seemingly no worse for being submerged in salt water for 3 days.
The good-nephew of early Western film star Tom Combine misplaced most of his left leg in a near-fatal crash with a drunk driver who collided together with his bike on LA’s Sundown Boulevard in 2007.
A state champion within the javelin at California’s Pomona School, he’d largely given up the game after college, however took it again up following the accident.
After sitting out the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Video games with accidents, he had been coaching relentlessly for this one, figuring at age 41 it could be his final probability.
“I had been biking each day for the previous two weeks, however after I misplaced the leg I needed to cease,” he mentioned. “So the final couple of days I’ve been fairly bummed.”
He made do these days with crutches as he contemplated ordering a brand new prosthetic, which might take as much as seven months to ship and price as a lot as $20,000, which he wasn’t certain his insurance coverage would cowl.In the meantime, discovering the leg was no straightforward job.
“That space occurs to be fairly difficult as a result of it goes from about 30 ft to about 65 ft in about zero visibility,” mentioned Capt. Omar Naranjo of the Fireplace Division’s Marine unit.
He gave lots of credit score to Combine for having the ability to recall exactly the place he was when the leg slipped off as he was climbing again right into a good friend’s boat within the Lengthy Seashore marina.However Combine says that’s solely a part of the story.
“The most important a part of this complete story is the truth that none of those rescue operators gave up,” he mentioned. “I’m simply amazed at how skilled and devoted all of them are.”