Hawaiian Surfer Sion Milosky dies at Mavericks

Milosky, 35, of Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawaii, apparently drowned after experiencing a two-wave hold down at Maverick's Wednesday.

It has been 17 years since Mavericks has claimed a life, yet it has come close so many times—most recently with Russel Ord’s rescue of Jacob Trette just two months ago.

Sion Milosky was regarded as a fierce, big wave surfer, and recently he had been named North Shore Underground Surfer of the Year, which came with $25,000 in prize money. It would be some of that same prize money that brought him with Nathan Fletcher to surf Mavericks on what some locals claim will be one of the biggest swells we have seen this winter.

Sion was no stranger to big waves, having paddled into one of the biggest waves ever on an outer reef in Hawaii with claims of 30-foot Hawaiian or 60-foot faces.  

I have a lot of friends, videographers and team riders who put themselves in Mavericks way to challenge one of the heaviest waves in the world. The stories I have heard send chills up my spine. Two wave hold downs are the norm, and often, people will escape the worst of wipeouts, but for those who have had them, it is a life-changing experience.

Mavericks is a well-respected wave, and the surfers who charge this place understand the consequences, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. Most surfers who have been out at Mavericks claim it may be one of the heaviest waves in the world. 

Below is the last moments of Sion Milosky's last wave and subsequent drowning. As told by Chris Killen, videographer:

"The guys have been here all week, and there has been back-to-back storms in the Pacific, and this was the week for Mavericks to break.

The size of the waves were about 18 to 20 foot, a few 40-foot faces, inconsistent, and some seriously big waves coming through for sure.

When Sion went down, it was like 6:30, and it was still really light out, and to be honest, a lot of guys went in; they thought the swell had peaked. For about 30 minutes to an hour, there were only a few waves that were breaking. 

The rest of the guys were staying out to catch the last of the bombs.

I filmed Sion's last wave.

I had Ryan Sealbach on the back of my ski, and we saw Sion go down on a bomb.

It looked like there was a huge jump in the swell, and the rest of the evening after Sion's wave, the waves were huge.

He was pretty deep on a big one and went super top to bottom and just bulldozed him, and you see that a lot out there. The wave passed, and his board was tombstoning.

He had an 11-foot board, and only 2 feet of it was sticking out. Add a 15-foot leash, and Sion is at the bottom of that.

I said at that moment, I have to get in there, and the next wave just detonates on him right on top of where the board was.

And when that wave passed, I raced into the bowl, and the board had vanished into thin air, and I didn't know what to do.

Usually you see a board pop up. I got close to mushroom rock, and on my way back out, I saw Shawn Dollar get a bomb and get obliterated, and I race in and grab in to get Dollar, and he thanks me, and he says the wave was so gnarly that it ripped off the spare can of air that he had attached to his suit.

Shawn Dollar had that crazy look in his eyes, and I take him back out to the bowl, and I run across Kyle Buthman, Ryan Chachi. No one has seen Sion, and I rush back in and look for him, and I wasn't really paying attention, and I got caught by a wave and shot out of it on the side, and I see Nathan Fletcher looking at his ski.

In my mind, I think he has Sion, but he had gone back in to get another board. I ask him if he had seen Sion and say I haven't seen him.

Nathan said he hasn't seen him, and we go look in the lagoon and mushroom rock and look around. We can't find him, and we start to panic and realize that it has been a long time, and I figured Sion had gone in.

I check the inside of the rocks, and hoping that I would see him and I don't see anything, and I look out into the surf and realize that it is Sion.

I run over where I could see down the break wall toward the harbor entrance, and I see Nathan Fletcher waving his arms, on the front of his ski.

He has Sion on the front of his ski, and he is lifeless. I started getting really sad, and we raced to the beach as fast as we can, and I hit the beach so hard I flipped over the bars of the ski.

We pull Sion off the ski, and Ben Andrews helped us get him up there, and we lay Sion on his back, and his lips and jaw are blue, and his eyes are bloodshot.

I started to do CPR and tell Nate to have someone call 911. As we continue to do CPR, foam and blood is pouring out of his mouth, and Shane Desmond comes in doing chest compressions, and I am making sure his airway is clear.

And we just sat there and begged Sion to come back until the medics got there. They hooked him up to IV and put a tube into his lungs and kept doing CPR with a pretty big scene on the beach.

They cut his suit off, and we find a flotation device in his suit, and it freaks me out that a guy like Sion, arguably one of the gnarliest big wave surfers in the world, could not survive a Mavericks hold down, even with a floatation device. Once they put him in the ambulance, we knew he was gone.”

This was one of the hardest stories of my life to write. Sion was an amazing father, husband and friend; moreover, he was a water man who died doing what he loved.

Sion Milsoky leaves behind a wife and two young girls. May all the love find this family and uplift them in this time of terrible tragedy.

Sion Milosky had the performance of a lifetime at Mavericks today, waiting for the biggest waves of the day and scoring. 

R.I.P., Sion Milosky. You will be sorely missed. 

sunny. mattole March 17, 2011 at 08:58 PM
I agree with Pete."enough is enough"....give sion some respect.he died like a Viking. Doing what he loved!..I think petes,skindogs,...and sions family all know the risk they take.it what makes them who they are.they wouldn't have meet their wives in the first place.I'm sure those women fell in love with the Viking in them too.....rip brother
raychelkauai March 17, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Sion was hard core at everything he did. Hardcore hubby, father,surfer,partier,fisherman ect. If you knew him youd know that he would want to go out the way he did. If you knew his family youd know that they supported him completely. Our hearts go out to all the people that was affected by him, to all his friends from Oahu, to the boys who knew him best here on Kauai, and especially to his beloved girls ( Im sorry for your loss). SIon we will love and miss you forever. You will never be forgotten. May you rest in peace and find comfort in the arms of heaven.
Francois March 17, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Who of us can say our last act was dropping into a monster wave, and committing to the drop? This man deserves an hero's respect. May his memory be one of a brave man.
tyson March 17, 2011 at 11:26 PM
sick dude. soo sick, Sion. Keep dropping those bombs up there. Say hi to Andy for us.
laurel March 17, 2011 at 11:54 PM
laurel 4:47pm on Thursday, March 17, 2011 thank you for trying to save him..You wrote a difficult eulogy....thank you Sion and Andy for showing the rest of us how to prepare. It could not be easy to write this...so bless you author and freind.....It gives his loved ones a sense completion..Sion ...he was a lovely soul ..a considerate and devoted father caring and dutiful husband and a beloved first son and brother to Remi and my cherished freind .... a truely ..beautiful man a perfect father and a great mechanic a fantastic fisherman a fun guy all around who loved everyone around him passionately and was thoughtful and determined...and surfed to live his dreams and share his love of family with the Ohana My love to Milo Suzy and the girls and Remi and all his loved ones and his freinds who are hurting like I am ..R.I.P Sion...hope the waves are perfect where you are now... thanks for the laughs and passion and tenderness and consideration.... Sion....you were remarkable and determined and responsible and humble .... Tell Andy ....you one upped him...at Jaws...
Mary March 18, 2011 at 01:05 AM
Does anyone knows who is his wife?
Mary March 18, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Laurel, is Suzy his wife?
laurel March 18, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Quite insightful Phil. And a more rounded take on life.I remember seeing pictures of Sion stand up surfing a boogie board at Poipu when he was three.......he was quite an athelete. I called him Bam Bam....although he resembled Bret Favre he was more gifted in many areas fo life.. Kauai has its unique way of bring out the survivor and warrior....he was a king in his Millieu.And a disciplined and gentle person. If you knew his life you would understand how he well related to both people and the ocean.The waves were his challenge.And he was an achiever at everything he pursued.He was not mono minded nor addicted...honnestly he wanted to provide for his family first and foremost.Fame was not his game.He was a courageous man.Trust me.
Banno March 18, 2011 at 05:31 AM
bummer..sounds like a champ. And yeah mate the bloke who tried to save him is a legend too, writing this must have been hard. Died doing what he loved.... hes not even gone hes Living in the greeen room forever
Frank Gallagher March 19, 2011 at 06:30 AM
Danny Keith March 19, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Please donate to Sion Milosky's fund http://www.volcom.com/news/article.asp?articleID=5218 I have donated double what I get paid to write this article, this family needs support right now. Its the least you can do, go with out coffee for a month so this family can collect their lives and rebuild. I am calling on all surfers to step up and donate. RIP Sion you are truly a giant among men...god speed. DK
Danny Keith March 19, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Sorry to double post but here is Sion Milosky's last wave as filmed and edited by Chris Killen http://www.chasingmonsters.com/news/item/14-rip-sion-milosky-donate-here-please also a place to donate to the Milosky family through this website as well.
Janetcalvert March 21, 2011 at 01:29 PM
What a sad waste of a precious life - dying doing doing something so totally stupid and pointless. Let us hope his children learn from this bitter and utterly sad lesson, and do something positive and constructive with their lives.
croxton March 21, 2011 at 04:15 PM
He died doing something he loved? Do you really think if given the choice he would have traded his life for that wave? I doubt it. Quit trying to make a hero out of a guy who abandoned his kids to die doing something he loved.
Pat Dowling March 21, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Janet Calvert: you need to re-read your bible and think twice before you spout your cruel and callous judgmental c.r.a.p. on this forum. Go flap your gums somewhere else
Danny Keith March 21, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Some of these comments are painful to read. Big Wave surfers are a unique group, they train both mentally and physically while creating a strong bond between their worldwide friends. The surfing community is mourning the loss of another one of their family and people make callous comments about how he died, why he died and how stupid it was for him to put himself in this position. No other activity/sport in the world compares to what these guys face when they paddle out to battle with mother natures energy. It is fairly obvious that those comments are being made by people who do not respect what these guys do and why us as surfers admire them for doing it. Whether or not its stupid to you as a normal everyday person really doesn't matter to us, and Sion Milosky as with Andy Irons will always be regarded as hero's in our eyes because they have managed to do what very few people even have the desire to try. So I will keep surfing and living my life based around the ocean and trust in knowing if I pass while surfing my family and friends will revel in the fact that I was doing what I truly loved more than anything else. Please donate to Sion Milosky's fund to support his family http://www.chasingmonsters.com/news/item/14-rip-sion-milosky-donate-here-please http://www.volcom.com/news/article.asp?articleID=5218
Brad Kava (Editor) March 21, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Thanks for that comment, Danny. Whether it's climbing Mount Everest or skiing, or flying...people take huge risks in adventure sports. Hell, they take them just driving a car.
Sean Harvey March 21, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Exceedingly stupid comments by morons who have no idea what they're talking about. Crock, look up your words before you use them so carelessly. Sion was nothing if not a hero. Webster's definition doesn't mention taking care of one's children but did it ever occur to you idiots that he might have been putting his life on the line for that reason? Since the beginning of time men have been doing dangerous things to provide for their families. He was getting sponsors and pulling down fat checks. That sounds like a good daddy to me. "in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice" "distinguished by exceptional courage and strength"
ROB March 21, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Eddie Glass March 21, 2011 at 08:53 PM
My knowledge of surfing comes from following the adventures of Bethany Hamilton. Many lives have, and will be, lost when humans take on extreme challenges such as the one that claimed the life of Sion Milosky. I did not know the man but as a sports fan, I love it when I see humans take on extremely difficult challenges because that is the way that we humans improve ourselves. Every day someone out in the big world is trying something dangerous and these guys are well aware of the risks involved, but it is with total sadness when a guy, a hero to many, loses his life doing something that they loved doing. With the tragic death of Andy Irons recently also, I am well aware that Hawaii's surfing community has a lot of grief in their hearts right now. May time be a healer to all of you.
Kerry Callinan March 22, 2011 at 04:38 AM
There's two sides of every coin. On the one side he died for a thrill on the other, surfing gave him health, happiness, awesome dreams, friends, a sense of belonging both to group and a tradition, self confidence, self esteem, great memories, great stories, cool scars, maybe a livelihood, maybe made him attractive enough to get a wife, and likely more. Surely more than Janet will lose if karma gets her t-boned by a semi on the way to the pickle factory tomorrow.
Jez March 22, 2011 at 07:17 PM
His name will stay written in the water forever
SURFPISMO March 23, 2011 at 04:37 AM
Bart March 25, 2011 at 10:03 PM
An underground charger - for real!!! So inspiring to those of us who must work for a living, but dream of surfing big waves. A working class hero, he struck me as a guy who did it to feel his existence because he loved it so. My deepest condolences to those who will miss him the most... I am just a stranger from Canada, who also loves the challenge of riding big waves, and who has shed tears for Sion's pursuit of surreal beauty. We will never know how, or when, or why the "real reason" people die. Everything has its place and everyone seems to forget that we all live on borrowed time anyhow. That a life so special was even created in the first place is testament to the miracle of creation. A person could die surfing 4 foot, or 40 foot... it not for us to say when our time is up. Sure he rode monster waves, but more than that he was a working man, just an ordinary guy trying to make a living while following his passion, which happened to be paddling into extraordinary sized waves! You can't fault a person for chasing their dreams and their passion. The path with heart is the only one to follow, its the path that makes for a joyful journey. In the end, all paths lead nowhere - all paths lead to ashes and dust. And so, it is not the destination, but the journey. Sion's family can breathe a sigh of relief - knowing that it was impossible for him to have lived life any fuller, within the realm of being true to himself and the purpose of his creation.
Major Pain April 11, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Bro: Give Jose Angel, Eddie Aikau, And Mark Foo, “A Big - Wave - Hug” For Me. May You ALL Rest - In - Peace. Semper Fi, “Major Pain”
Sheryl Halstead April 21, 2011 at 08:28 AM
Hi Kerry, i really like your post. brilliant way of looking at things. :) Sheryl. Durban, South Africa.
Catriona Vega February 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Beautifully said Bart. Blessings of love and healing to all of Sion's friends and family. May we all find the courage to live with passion and integrity!
North Star April 02, 2012 at 06:50 AM
THE surreal sites and amazing auditory stimuli associated with large surf fraternizing...don't expect the inexperienced to appreciate it, lower your expectations of humans and be less frustrated. Sion saw and heard things that few humans, out of the billions, will. Straight truth. His spirit undoubtedly resides in his family. No tears- celebrate his uniquity!
Lindsay Hebenstreit October 03, 2012 at 10:06 AM
You know what I think...that's right! It doesn't fucking matter. In all he sounds and seems and has been shown as a good person. He died and has family that loves and misses him. It's beyond me that we think we have a right to harp on whatever we google that day. People who have negative post or people who have and feel the right to do so all the time are smothering the earth. We are all human and only less if you continue to judge the other..that is human. Stop ! And have a compassion. He was an artist of a tremendous nature. Our world is shitted on with fear loathing asses and its scary to think people would comment on a man's integrity without knowledge of the man. It's not scary its depressing. Being sensitive is evidently a pass time but I enjoy feelin everything and maneuvering to a greater understanding. Sad to see people think life is to be a box and shamefull for self prophecy?? No we wouldn't exist if we didn't have desires to out own spirits. Balance your heart and check your lip.
Lindsay Hebenstreit October 03, 2012 at 10:23 AM
I hope that his family will no longer endure such heartless commentary(Janet and others). Have some class. Your a stranger judging a stranger who has passed. Though all the time I've followed him I've been nothing less than blown away! He had a respect in all his ways about him, I'm assuming , yet with huge supportive evidence from many who knew and surfed along side of him. Blessings to his wife and children.


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