Budding surfing star Zander Vanezia, 16, died this week while surfing off the coast of his native Barbados, Matt Pruett of Surfline.com reports.
Zander and other accomplished surfers were riding waves Tuesday off the shore of eastern Barbados during the mega-swell created by Hurricane Irma, and the young professional was knocked into a reef on the Atlantic Ocean’s rocky floor near the coastline.
The Bridgetown, Barbados, native was unconscious when Nathan Florence — among several pros who flew to Barbados for the opportunity of riding unique waves generated by Irma — pulled him out of the water, Pruett reports.
Zander died in a Barbadian hospital with his parents by his side.
Autopsy reports Wednesday revealed no fractures, per Surfline.com.
So many prayers to the Venezia family. Rest In Peace Zander 🙁
— Avery (@averyaydelotte) September 5, 2017
This news comes just two weeks after the teenager claimed the $250 top prize at the Rip Curl GromSearch event in North Carolina, Dave Quinn of SI.com notes.
“I’m told that Zander get overturned by a closeout set, where he likely hit bottom,” said Alan Burke, a pro surf instructor, via Pruett. “Nathan Florence got to him first, then shouted for the other guys and started to perform CPR. Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was difficult. ‘Box by Box’ [the area where the surfers were in the Caribbean] 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.
“When they finally did get him in, they performed CPR on the beach. The ambulance came really swiftly from Speightstown, and the whole drive Nathan Florence, Dylan Graves and the paramedics continued to try and revive him. But once they got him to the hospital, Zander was breathing, but not responsive. From the time Nathan got to him in the water to when they arrived at the hospital, it was about 75 minutes of nonstop CPR.”
I’m going to miss you so much Zander! You had such an amazing session today. Surfed for 4 hours. You were charging and had the happiest smile on your face everytime I saw you. You were a humble, respectful, full of positive energy that every kid should look up too and live the way you did. Gone too soon. My heart is heavy. The Venezia’s always treated me like family and it hurts that they have to go through losing someone so special.
Irma has yet to make its way onto U.S. shores, but it was a Category 4 hurricane Friday with sustained winds of 150 mph.
RIP Zander Venezia… you were too young 🙁
— gracie riggan (@gracieriggannn) September 5, 2017
Fox News reports at least 23 people have died from its wrath in the Caribbean.
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