R.I.P. ‘Leo’ Tom. Long Time Hard Core Surfer who was critically injured on Saturday Big NW at Makaha…dies.

3 pm update Monday 10/30.

Your thoughts and prayers for all the family and friends of Leonard Tom. We’ll post more info asap. Mahalo. SNN.

Leo’s wife and family took him off Life Support Sunday night. His gun not only knocked him out cold, but it broke his neck! (Tracy Yamato)


First update: Leo was transported in critical condition from Oahu’s west side Saturday.

Ocean safety officials said the 64-year-old man was surfing out at Makaha Beach Park around 7:45 a.m when his ‘gun’ evidently knocked him out.

“Luckily” Rusty Keaulana, one of the off-duty lifeguards & John Galera where on the beach when a fellow surfer, struggling, brought him to shore where CPR was administered and they were eventually able to “get a pulse”. Lifeguards were not yet at the beach because they begin at 9 a.m. He was transported to an emergency room.

Mahalo for this close-hand inside report from Big Wave Rider Tracy Yamato….

“Not sure if all of you can see “Leo” Leonard Tom’s post he made at the end of last “Winter” (in the Spring of this year) at Sunset after Leo, Dennis Pang, Scott Shimada, Keith Kai & I had just finished an Epic morning sess there…. 

The reason why I am re-posting Leo’s post is to show the comradery that us “older” Sunset regulars (Boomer and Gen X’ers) have…even with all of the responsibilities of family, careers, businesses, houses, etc, etc….who only get to surf by juggling all of these “adult” things…It makes us appreciate days and times like this even more than if we could surf any day we wanted to…


I also wanted to let anyone who knows Leo (one of then nicest guys around….one of the late 60’s/early 70’s Radford guys) to notify you of some very SAD NEWS….Leo was knocked unconscious by his gun at Makaha early this am and was not found and recovered for probably at least 5-10 mins (according to John Galera & Clark Abbey who were at Makaha when this unfortunate incident happened)…..Only major CPR on the beach gave him his pulse back…..However, he was unconscious and still remains so at Queens West in an induced coma….HEAVY and really really sad…(Sat 10/28) 

AGAIN Thoughts & Prayers to Leo’s wife & family! Appreciate every moment you have with yours….. 

and Yes…Do Keep Surfing….

Tracy Yamato

Lastly, This was sent to me from Surfer Joe Teipel once he heard the terrible news.

GQ….sent you VM (post-yours) yesterday for recon at Makaha.
Despite, in the infamy, it earned Sat AM, by potentially claiming another good one….a class-act.
I actually knew Leo from my KNEEBOARDING days in the early ‘70s at Kaisers, when that break was world-class!
He was one of the main men on the peak;
from the Radford gang that included James Jones, et al.
I only found out by inquiry that this was the guy as reports out in the lineup were vague…..until now.
See Tracy Y’s post and the link above to see Leo T preparing to charge again…..
I would see him at big Castle’s and beefy Makaha
where none of his boyhood day companions can be found in the lineups he’s into!
Maybe we can get a prayer-warrior-linkup to help pull him through; gonna take a miracle.
Surfer Joe



  • Posted October 31, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I worked with Leo for over 7 years in Honolulu and we surfed together mostly at Walls and occasionally at Sunset or Makaha when it was not too big for me. Two years ago almost to this fateful day he took my wife and I to the Honolulu airport so we could return to Florida and be closer to family. And then a bit over a month ago in September he called just to catch up. He was looking forward to the big winter swells as he always did and kinda teased me for being in Florida. We planned on getting together after he retired in a couple years. In my garage is a 9’6″ Tom Nellis old school tri-fin gun Leo sold me from his quiver about 9 years ago. Too thick for him it fit me well. I’ve had no need to use it for these past 2 years but I have a feeling this winter in Florida there will be a few days when I will finally get a chance to take it out again. When I ride it I will remember him. I will miss my good friend. God Bless! Keith Brunner

    • Posted November 3, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Hey Thank you Keith, this guy was amazing as we’re learning each day…Aloha, Gary and SNN Team

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