Surfing: Llywelyn Williams' parents told he would die following horror crash

A surfer has spoken of how he nearly died and his journey from a hospital bed to becoming Wales’ first world champion in the sport. 

Llywelyn Williams, from Abersoch on Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula, won the World Para Surfing Championships in California in 2022.

The first ever Welsh world surfing title came nearly a decade after he suffered life threatening injuries when he collided with a car while riding his bike in 2011.

Now, 12 years on from the incident, he has told ITV Cymru Wales’ Welsh Lives programme his parents were told he would not make it through his first night in hospital.

Llywelyn Williams has now surfed in competitions around the world, culminating in his victory at the 2022 world championships.

“I can’t remember anything except waking up in hospital with one leg, months after,” he said.

“I think my parents got told twice that I wasn’t going to make it through the night.

“They found me on the road with my foot next to my head.

“I had a shattered pelvis so this leg dislocated and my right leg came straight through my pelvis and luckily within the bone mess or the shatter my main artery was pinched so I didn't bleed out. 

“My last image was going towards a light and then as I was zooming towards the light a bald shadow came in front of me and said, no it’s not your time, in Welsh.

“I opened my eyes and saw all my friends and family and surfing pictures so I was like wow.”

Llywelyn's father, Dafydd, was told there was a good chance his son would not survive.

Llywelyn’s dad Dafydd told ITV Cymru Wales: “It wasn’t a good night when we heard he had had the accident.

“[The] last few minutes before he went into hospital it was quite on the edge whether he'd make it, but he came through.

Llywlelyn suffered life-threatening injuries that included two dislocated hips, a broken femur and a shattered pelvis.

Despite every effort to try to save his right leg, it was amputated two weeks after the accident.

Llywleyn's above knee amputation means he has had to adapt the entire way he surfs.

A keen surfer before the incident, Llywelyn credits the sport and his desire to return with helping his rehabilitation.

“I think surfing got me through hospital because I woke up from my coma, and all I wanted to do was surf,” he continued.

“I just had a drive to get back in the sea. I had the drive, got my strength back and then worked myself to get back in the water. 

“The first day I went back to Porth Ceiriad, two friends carried me, one under each arm on a body board. 

“Then as soon as I went in the water, the wave hit me…it felt like I was being born again.”

With the support of friends, family and the wider community in and around Abersoch, Llywelyn pursued a career as a competitive surfer.

With his leg amputated from the hip, he surfs in a dropped knee position, sitting on his heel.

He has since gone on to win dozens of tournaments, culminating in his first world title last year.

Having now won a world title, Llywleyn has turned his attention to getting para surfing included in the Paralympics.

“When you think of the accident, it’s still in your mind,” his father continued.

“But when you see what he’s achieving, I don’t think he could have achieved what he has if he hadn’t had the accident. 

“I’m so proud of him. The whole family is.”

Llywelyn defends his world title in California in November, with para surfing the most competitive it has ever been.

He also hopes the sport will make it into the 2029 Paralympic Games, due to be hosted in Los Angeles, with a decision expected before the end of the year.

You can watch Welsh Lives on ITV 1 Cymru Wales at 8:00pm on Tuesday, September 12. Catch up online afterwards.