16-year-old professional surfer Zander Venezia died in Barbados Tuesday while surfing the monster waves generated by Hurricane Irma.
Just before his death, Venezia told a fellow surfer that he had just caught “the best wave of my life.”
A number of pro surfers who traveled to Barbados for the hurricane-generated high surf were reportedly in the water when the accident occurred, and tried to come to Venezia’s rescue.
“Nathan Florence got to him first, then shouted for the other guys and started to perform CPR,” Burke told Surfline. “Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was difficult.”
Some media reports have said Venezia likely sustained a broken neck. However, Burke told Surfline that an autopsy showed no fractures and that Venezia drowned after being knocked unconscious.
Poor little guy. Sixteen is way too young. And too young to understand the life-and-death implications of what he did.
A little more about him:
Venezia started getting attention on the competitive circuit at age 11, when he was crowned the U-12 national champion, according to Surfer.com. He had recently won the Rip Curl Gromsearch 16-U division in Nags Head, North Carolina, and was scheduled to compete at the national final at Steamer Lane in October.
Video compilation of Zander doing his thing, below.
Im still In shock. What an absolute pleasure it was meeting you earlier this year @zandervenezia I didn’t know you long but you seemed like the nicest kid. And you were charging so hard your last session! I was so impressed. My deepest condolences to the Venezia family. Hats off to @louis_venezia who kept his cool during a critical time of Zander’s rescue, I can only imagine what you were going through in that moment and now 😔. Also to everyone of the crew who was out surfing and helped get him in. The conditions were extremely challenging. You all know who you are and each and everyone gave it there all in giving Zander his best chance to live 🙌🏼may we all find peace in that. RIP @zandervenezia see you on the other side my friend 📷 @slashsmash
(Featured image via Zander’s Instagram)