The Moroccans who saved my life

At Lalla Fatna Beach in Safi the day before the accident. The waves here were so huge and nasty that I didn't even try to bodysurf them. Should have made the same decision the next day at Sidi Bouzid.

By Kevin BarrettVT Editor

Still finding it hard to believe I’m alive.

Three days ago, while I was bodysurfing at Sidi Bouzid beach near El Jadida, Morocco, a freak wave slammed me head first into the sand, rupturing a disc in my neck and leaving me temporarily paralyzed between my waist and chin. I flopped helplessly in the breaking surf for a few minutes that seemed like forever, gasping for air when I could, emitting brief and feeble cries for help, and using my legs to try to shove myself shoreward.

Totally underwater except during the rare moments when the current wave briefly receded, growing ever more bloated with seawater, I thought it likely I would die there…but kept fighting for life in hopes of seeing family and friends again. “Please God somehow save me from this…” Splash. Crash. Roar. Getting tumbled in the surf really sucks when you can’t feel or use your arms.

Fortunately the waves kept nudging me towards shore. Every now and then I could get my lips above the waterline, suck in a lungful of air, and try to scream for help.

The beach was sparsely attended. The water at this time of year is considered cold, and the waves dangerous. Two young Moroccans finally caught sight of me and raced into the surf to pull me out. As they say in Morocco: Alhamdulillah.

The next few hours were a blur. I lay flat on the beach, involuntarily flailing my legs, unable to feel or move my arms but capable of wiggling my fingers, sharp electrical pains jolting from my lower neck through my shoulders and down my arms.

A chattering crowd gathered round me. Eventually the ambulance arrived and they boarded me on a stretcher.

The road to the hospital was bumpy. I convinced the attendant to hold my head so it wouldn’t bounce around too much.

They carried me into Mohammed V Hospital in downtown El Jadida: a Moroccan public hospital where the poor get bare-bones treatment for serious or terminal conditions. (Better off folks including the middle class use private cliniques).

It was definitely not the Mayo Clinic…more like a field hospital from the front lines of the war on poverty. Some of the patients looked to be in pretty bad shape. But the doctor, who spoke perfect unaccented English despite never having visited an English speaking country, was compassionate and competent.

They ran a CT scan. “I have good news for you Mr. Barrett. You have a herniated disk. Recovery prognosis good. But you need an MRI. The only good one in Morocco is in Casablanca. If you stay there you could be seen in a week to ten days.”

I asked if I could travel. They said yes.  I decided to return to the USA as planned and do the MRI there.

They fitted me for a neck brace and discharged me in record time.

I have been spending a couple of days resting up and will fly home soon.

It is now three days after the stupidest body-surfing decision of my not-yet-terminated lifetime. The numbness and electrical pains are receding. I can finally sit up and type, even with the extra-numb left hand.

So there you have it folks: My excuse for not answering emails, failing to post articles and radio shows, and having to miss yet another False Flag Weekly News.

I feel immense gratitude to God (Allah in Arabic), and to those two Moroccan guys who saved my life. I am also grateful for the way so many Moroccans—the ambulance driver and attendants, the doctor and nurses, and the cops and security people who always have to get involved when something happens to a visitor from a rich country—treated me not just with kindness and decency, but genuine friendliness.

Moroccans are good people…maybe the most genuinely hospitable people in the world.


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  1. Thank goodness you’re OK Kevin. Take the time off you need to recover fully. Your contribution to the Truth/Peace movement is outstanding.

  2. Glad you came though this close call Kevin. Anyone who has lived any length of time encounters close calls between life and death. It can take many forms, such as drifting over the line on a narrow two lane road and nearly having a head on collision, or traveling in the mountains on a narrow two lane road with no guardrails while not paying attention to the air pressure in the tires or the condition of the tires, and having a blow out a block from home, or trying to start a truck in the middle of winter and after about ten minutes of running poorly you discover a fire in the muffler burning on the asphalt nearly right under the gas tank! The fire department could not have reached you in time but luckily a fire extinguisher saved your life. The list is endless. Everyone’s luck finally runs out some day. Glad you made it Kevin to another day of life. Never go near water without friends and others around.

  3. I know how wonderful and self sacrificing many Arabic speaking people are in my experiences.
    My goodness, Dr. Barrett, please take good care of yourself.
    God bless you and us, who admire and love you.
    You are irreplaceable as other many writers of VT. Beautiful and almost untouched beaches of North Africa seem very attractive even to me who can not swim well, but again, please not to be too hard on your tail. Love you!

  4. I’m glad everything finished ok, sir! I can’t call myself the fan of your articles at VT, but hope you get well soon and join your VT writers team.
    P.S. After reading such stories, start to think how life is precious and how fragile it is also….

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