Kelly Slater: riding at the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau in 2009 | Photo: ASP/Cestari

Kelly Slater has saved a baby and his mother from being dragged out to sea at Waimea Bay, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

But the story could have ended differently if the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau 2015/2016 had gotten underway. We explain: if the big wave surfing event had had green light, Slater would have been out, paddling for giants.

The show didn't run. Kelly was at Rockpiles checking the surf at Log Cabins. Suddenly, a freak wave invades the footpath and drags Sarah and her baby Van into the nearby bushes. The Floridian could not believe what his eyes were seeing, and ran for rescue.

"So thankful the surf gods denied Kelly Slater today, cos for whatever reason he was right there to save my wife and kid who were swept across a road by a freak wave today," wrote the Western Australian photographer Chris White.

"Forever grateful to the great man and so thankful my family is alive and safe. Thanks to all the lifeguards too, who saved many lives today."

Hawaii: freak waves are stronger than wood | Photo: @chris.whitey

The local lifeguards promptly joined Kelly Slater. His "Baywatch" years proved to be effective and useful. The lifesaving instinct is still there.

"Chris Whitey, thank you! I didn't look at it that way, but for some random reason, I stopped there when I normally don't and happened to be there. Lifeguards were on it either way and had it handled. So, glad all is well, and we can (someday) laugh about it. Van's first wave was a huge one! Definitely a WA baby!" replied Slater.

Surfers can make the difference, especially when you've got a board and you spot someone in distress. Learn how to save a person from drowning.

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