A professional teen surfer died while surfing a wave caused by the swell from Hurricane Irma in Barbados, according to World Surf League.
Zander Venezia, 16, fell from his board and hit a shallow reef while riding a wave with several other surfers on a beach called Box by Box.
“Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was very difficult,” Alan Burke, a surfing instructor, told Surfline magazine.
“Box by Box is a tough place to get in and out of, even if you have the ability,” he added.
The family received the results of the autopsy in the afternoon on Sept. 6. Zander was knocked unconscious and drowned.
Nathan Florence, a fellow pro-surfer who came to Barbados to catch the swell generated by Hurricane Irma, pulled Venezia out of the water.
“Horrible news,” said surfing instructor Alan Burke. “I feel empty, we are in shambles over here. I wasn’t there [at the spot], but my wife has been with the Venezia family at the hospital.”
“Nathan Florence got to him first, then shouted for the other guys and started to perform CPR,” Burke continued. “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.”
Venezia was a native of Bridgetown, Barbados, and a son of a surfer. He was called one of the island’s most promising young surfers by Nation News, the island’s local newspaper.
“He was one of my sons’ [Josh and Jacob Burke] best friends, and like a son to me,” Burke said. “We just traveled the whole East Coast together, surfing that last Outer Banks swell together. Zander was such a good, funny kid. He was always joking, and he just loved surfing. He was so jovial, such a joy to be around. I just can’t believe he’s gone. I’m a mess, man. We’re all a mess over here.”
In mid-August, Venezia won the Rip Curl Grom Search in North Carolina. In April, he won the regional championships of the National Scholastic Surfing Association.
Venezia spoke his last words to fellow surfer Dylan Graves just before going for the wave the killed him: “I just got the best wave of my life!”
Hurricane Irma resulted in 10 deaths as of Thursday morning.
Eight people died on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin after Hurricane Irma left Barbuda devastated on Thursday.
Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, is one of the most powerful storms in a century. It is on track to hit Florida later this week.
Reuters contributed to this report.