“I’m sure I’ll go surfing [soon], surfing has given me so much, it’s something that gives me peace,” he said in a Tuesday news conference back home in Australia. “I’m sure I’ll go back out.”
Like many people who have a close brush with catastrophe, he wasn’t exactly sure how he escaped. “It was right there,” he said. “I don’t know if I punched it hard, or little baby punches, I just sort of went into fight or flight. I started getting dragged under water by my leg rope. That’s when it broke … I was just screaming and I was telling Jules [Julian Wilson, a nearby fellow surfer] to get in, the warrior was coming after me though.
“… As I was swimming in, I was doing freestyle and then I was like, if this thing is going to come at me I want to have a look at it. I turned around and was on my back, I had my fist cocked and was ready to see what was going to go … then the jet-skis came.”
Wilson set out for Fanning, saying that “I was just praying that he was going to be there and not under water and that there wasn’t going to be blood everywhere [when the wave receded].”
Fanning headed straight home to Australia, where the horror unfolding on TV was all too intimate for his mother.
“I just stood up and ran over to the television and really felt like I wanted to pull him out of the television,” Elizabeth Osborne tearfully told the ABC in Australia. “I was so scared. I just thought when that wave came through that he’d gone.”
It was a doubly awful moment for her because she lost another son 17 years ago.
“When Sean was killed in the car accident, I didn’t see it. I saw this just in front of me,” she said. “It was just terrible.”
Fanning admitted that he needed a bit of time to get his bearings again.
“It’s more of an emotional, mental trauma,” he said. “It will probably take a couple of weeks, months, I don’t know how long it’s going to take [to get over it]. I’m just lucky I’ve got great people around me.”