Shad Gaspard, a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star, and actor, was found dead early Wednesday on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, after he went missing last weekend, police said. He was 39.
A body was found by two passersby who lived in the area and was reportedly laying on the sand halfway between Venice Beach pier and lifeguard headquarters, an official with the Los Angeles Police Department said.
“The decedent was identified as Shad Gaspard and next of kin was notified,” according to an LAPD statement. The remains did not show any signs of foul play.
Gaspard disappeared off the coast near Venice Beach last Sunday while swimming with his 10-year-old son, and officials searched for him for many hours.
#PierIC at 2:19AM @lacolifeguards @LACOFD @LAPDHQ respond to #VenicePier to a report of a body along the shoreline that matches the description of Sunday’s missing swimmer. Crews on-scene extricate from the water and transfer to @lacountymec pic.twitter.com/b5xYmCOBkj
— LACoFD Lifeguards (@LACoLifeguards) May 20, 2020
Gaspard was caught in a rip current, and was about 50 yards (46 meters) from the shore when he was last spotted by a lifeguard, police said. A wave crashed over him and he was swept out to sea.
Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department told news outlets that Los Angeles County lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard have been engaged in the search for Gaspard, who they were unable to pull from the water after he showed signs of distress.
“We are going to put forth every effort available to us to locate the missing swimmer throughout the day and night,” Schrader said at the time.
Gaspard’s son was rescued, and several other swimmers made it out of the water safely.
Gaspard gained prominence in the WWE as one half of the tag-team group Cryme Tyme, along with his partner, JTG. After retiring in 2010, Gaspard has had small roles on TV and in movies, including the 2015 Kevin Hart comedy “Get Hard.”
The WWE issued a statement on the former WWE star’s passing saying it is saddened to learn about his death, and “extends its condolences to Gaspard’s family, friends and fans.”
The statement said that Gaspard was “admired by friends and colleagues for his warmth and humor.”
“Gaspard was no stranger to heroic deeds,” the WWE also said in its statement. “In 2016, he broke up an armed robbery in Coral Springs, Fla., pinning the suspect to the ground until police arrived.”
WWE said that Gaspard’s final act was instructing the lifeguards to save his son’s life.
Siliana Gaspard, the 39-year-old’s wife, wrote on Instagram the day her husband went missing, ABC7 reported. She posted two photos of Shad next to a child, saying he was seen last at Marina Del Rey beach when he disappeared.
“That group was stuck in one of the rip currents and were swimming just north of the lifeguard tower,” said Pono Barnes, an ocean lifeguard specialist. “That’s why lifeguards were able to get there so soon, but unfortunately, one did, however, submerge.”
On Tuesday, Siliana issued a statement thanking authorities for their efforts to find her husband.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad,” Silliana said. “Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad.”
Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.