Professional cinematographer Mike Prickett began his day in Tahiti last Wednesday, March 14, attending to business as usual. The 47-year-old Hawaiian was on location in Rangiroa, Tahiti shooting a commercial for wetsuits and dive gear.
However, after the shoot started, Prickett noticed a diver struggling in the water below him, and his rescue instincts took over. “I saw another diver sinking and panicking,” said Prickett. “I dove down to 220 feet to save him, but he used up all my air.”
Prickett was able to rescue the diver, but in performing the rescue he suffered serious decompression sickness from using his entire supply of oxygen in deep water. As a result, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Incredibly, Prickett started to regain feeling in his legs Tuesday, March 20, and doctors are now hopeful for his recovery.
This isn’t the first time that Prickett has proven his resilience in the wake of a tragic accident. In 1984, when he broke his right and left legs in a serious car crash, doctors thought that he would never walk again. But after turning to swimming for therapy, Prickett healed, and discovered his love of underwater cinematography through the rehabilitation process.
Prickett has an incredible ability to maintain optimism in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of the recent accident he stated, “I’m glad I was able to rescue [the diver] and he could walk away from the incident.”