To have witnessed terrible wipeouts

Name: Rene Escalante

Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Xterra

Lives: Imperial Beach

Surfing: Hospitals, La Jolla

Rene Escalante is an Imperial Beach native who's been surfing and bodyboarding nearly all his life. This morning, Rene strapped his Cactus board to the roof rack of his Nissan and hit La Jolla to join his friends for some morning surf. Other than the stock Nissan roof rack, he doesn't use any other gear and opts to wear only board shorts in the summer. Rene learned to surf on his own and took lessons from experienced friends. He says it was natural and easy for him to start slowly, to just be comfortable in the water and then progress to be "a pretty good surfer."

Escalante has seen a good amount of sea life from atop his board. "A lot of dolphins, seals, stingrays, and jellyfish," he says, and he's come across lost lobster pots floating in the water.

Escalante has witnessed some terrible wipeouts. The worst one happened when a guy was knocked off a wave and the board was tossed around, knocking against him. When the guy came out of the water, Escalante saw that the fin of the thrashing board had slashed the man's face from his forehead to his chin. "He probably had to get stitches across his face."

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