A teenage American pro-surfer has been killed after catching a monster wave in Barbados as Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean.
Zander Venezia, 16, fell off his surfboard and hit a shallow reef at a beach called Box by Box, the World Surf League said. He and other surfers were riding huge waves generated by the Category Five hurricane on Tuesday.
Surf instructor Alan Burke told Surfline magazine the teen was knocked over by a “close-out set” – a wave that closes in from both sides – and “likely hit bottom”.
He was pulled from the sea by fellow surfer Nathan Florence who gave him CPR.
“Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was very difficult,” Burke said.
“Box by Box is a tough place to get in and out of, even if you have the ability. There’s lots of big rocks around, and some stick out of the water.”
Burke said Venezia’s last words were to fellow surfer Dylan Graves.
“He told Dylan, ‘I just got the best wave of my life!'” Burke said. “Dylan was the last person to speak to Zander. Then that next close-out set came through.”
Surf champ Kelly Slater paid tribute to Venezia on Instagram, saying to his family “sorry doesn’t cover it. Words cannot suffice for your family and the loss of a son. The grief felt by so many is felt around this surfing work of ours.”
@zandervenezia By all accounts you were as good a friend as you were a surfer…thank you for the impact you had on those around you for a life lived with joy and purpose. And thank you for taking this photo with me when you were 5. I will cherish it always. @louis_venezia sorry doesn't cover it. Words cannot suffice for your family and the loss of a son. The grief felt by so many is felt around this surfing work of ours. Much love to my #BarbadosFamily. #GoneTooSoon #ZanderVenezia •For those who don't know, Zander passed away while surfing today after catching what he said was the best wave of his life. He was knocked unconscious when he hit his head on the reef, possibly braking his neck and taking a long hold down for a number of waves. Friends and fellow surfers aided in a rescue attempt but his injuries were greater than could be addressed making him the first victim, by default, of #HurricaneIrma.
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