UPDATE 9am: A SURFER who was pulled from the water at Byron Bay near The Wreck yesterday remains in a critical condition in Gold Coast University hospital.
Tweed Byron police Inspector Chad Deegenaars said the Byron Bay man was 43-years-old, not in his mid 20's as first thought.
Insp Deegenaars said police were not prepared to release the man's name yet, as relatives were still being advised of his condition.
ORIGINAL 6am: A SURFER who was pulled from the water at Byron Bay yesterday afternoon unconscious and not breathing last night remained in a critical condition at the Gold Coast University Hospital last night.
Police have now announced they have the 43-year-old man's surfboard "as an exhibit", and were investigating "the circumstances surrounding the incident".
Speaking yesterday afternoon, Tweed Byron police Inspector Chad Deegenaars said the man was surfing at the Wollongbar wreck on Belongil Beach when he got into difficulty just before 3pm.
"He was seen to go under the water and not resurface by members of the public who were surfing nearby," he said.
Insp Deegenaars said the surfers responded and searched the water for the man.
"He was brought to shore by surfers who were met by lifeguards from Byron Bay Surf Club."
In a statement, police later said the was knocked out when he hit his head on a part of the Wollongbar poking above the water and was swept about 300 metres down the beach before he cold be pulled from the water.
Police and paramedics were called to the scene while lifeguards immediately commenced CPR on the man until emergency services arrived.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said paramedics took over CPR from lifeguards until the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter arrived overhead.
The spokeswoman said the man was winched up into the helicopter before being airlifted to hospital in a critical condition. He last night remained in a critical but stable condition with suspected spinal injuries.
Police were unsure whether the man was a local.
Surf Life Saving New South Wales is urging all water users to be mindful of safety with heavy swells expected to hit over the next 48 hours.
The swell, being whipped up by ex-tropical cyclone Ola, will affect the entire NSW coastline by midday today, with sets of up to four metres.
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