Mikala Jones, a professional surfer known for his photography and videos filmed from inside the barrels of breaking waves, died after the fin from his surfboard sliced an artery in his leg while he was surfing in Indonesia, his family and a person who helped him after the accident said.
Mr. Jones’s father, John Jones, told The Associated Press on Monday that his son, 44, had been on a trip to the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra on Sunday. The fin cut his femoral artery, which supplies blood to the lower limbs, he said.
Mr. Jones had been in the water with his nephew and other surfers as sets of waves rolled through. Then an eight-foot wave appeared, Aimar Abilleira, a resort owner who helped Mr. Jones, said in an interview on Thursday.
“He was waiting for it,” Mr. Abilleira said. “He really knew what kind of wave he wanted. He was really patient.”
“He got the wave, pulling into the barrel, the tube, and he did not make it. The waves closed out,” he said. “So we figured out, when he fell out his fin cut the main artery.”
Keala Ashton, Mr. Jones’ nephew, who was in the water with him in the isolated region, said the environment was “as tough as it gets.” “I tried my absolute best to do everything I could and I’m sorry it wasn’t enough,” he wrote on Instagram.
This week, the online surf world mourned a member of its tribe and circulated some of Mr. Jones’s most popular works, including a photograph that showed him peering through the barrel of a breaking wave as he rode it into an opening of sunlight.
Isabella Jones, one of his daughters, and professional surfers wrote messages on social media about Mr. Jones, who grew up on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii, and later lived in Indonesia with his wife, Emma Brereton, Isabella and another daughter, Violet.
As described in a profile in The Surfer’s Journal published in 2014, Mr. Jones sets out from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka and the Azores to find waves. In Sumatra, “he bagged more than one cover shot standing tall in the belly of the beast,” the article said.
“It’s like a disease,” Mr. Jones was quoted as saying. “But when you pull up at a spot you’ve been researching and the swell is there, the wind is right and you’re about to paddle out to empty perfection, that’s what it’s all about. That’s where I get my fix.”
“I love the travel. I love surfing. But right at the point where the two come together — for me that’s the best moment. That’s what I keep chasing,” he said.
Mr. Jones was among a generation of “free-surfers” who researched where the best waves were and pursued them throughout the world, Nathan Myers, the author of the article who was also Mr. Jones’s neighbor in Canggu, Bali, for a decade, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“They are chasing storms,” Mr. Myers said, “and they would take amazing photos. He became one of the very best POV guys,” he said, using the cinematic shorthand for point of view.
That quest took him to the Mentawai Islands on June 30, when he and his family settled in at Mr. Abilleira’s Awera resort, planning to stay until July 10. On Sunday, the resort was full, so Mr. Abilleira did not join Mr. Jones and others in the water, as he had on previous occasions.
“Suddenly I received a call,” he said. Mr. Jones had been injured.
“He asked for help, he was really calm and said, ‘I think I cut my artery’ to rest the people in the water,” Mr. Abilleira said. “More waves were coming. Four people in the water helped him, but he had to do another two waves by himself, so he took out the leash of the board to make sure he did not receive further impact, and he managed to go through.”
By board and boat, Mr. Jones was brought ashore, where Mr. Abilleira met them and was told how the ordeal in the water unfolded. They rode in an ambulance to a small hospital about 6 miles away. Mr. Jones was barely breathing and had lost consciousness. A tourniquet, fashioned from the surfboard leash and a piece of wood, oxygen, chest compressions and other measures failed, Mr. Abilleira said.
The medical staff concluded he had lost most of his blood in the water from the nearly 4-inch-deep cut, he said.
“We stayed one hour trying to make him alive,” Mr. Abilleira said.
Mr. Jones made some of the sport’s best point-of-view videos while riding barrels, using techniques that he had worked on for more than a decade before he started a collaboration with GoPro.
He also published footage of his work on his Instagram page. In one of his last posts, he filmed himself standing up on a surfboard as the walls of a wave folded around him. “Time to live,” he wrote. Besides his wife and children, he said, surfing was “all I need.”