Hurricane Irma has already brought destruction to several islands in the Caribbean and is swiftly moving toward United States mainland. The total death toll is up to 10 so far, and news of another tragic incident was just revealed.
Earlier this week, professional teen surfer Zander Venezia was surfing the massive waves in Barbados caused by the swell of Irma. The 16-year-old was surfing with several others pros on a popular beach called Box by Box. Sadly, Venezia died while attempting to catch the big waves.
Nathan Florence, another pro-surfer, came to Barbados with several other pros to catch the swell caused by Hurricane Irma. He reportedly saw the teen paddling out to the lineup when he was caught in a wave by a close out set and slammed into a reef.
While the initial suspicion was that Venezia broke his neck, the autopsy released on Wednesday revealed that he was knocked unconscious when he went under, and then drowned. When Florence pulled him out of the water, he and another surfer, Dylan Graves, tried to revive him.
Surf instructor Alan Burke said, "Horrible news. I feel empty, and 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."
Burke said that the ambulance came swiftly, but once they arrived at the hospital the teen was unresponsive. There were about 75 minutes of CPR performed on Venezia between pulling him out of the water and arriving at the hospital.
Just before his accident, Venezia told Dylan Graves that he had just "got the best wave of his life". Moments later, he was being pulled out of the water without movement.
Alan Burke, whose sons were best friends with Venezia, said that he was always such a joy to be around.
He said, "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."
Zander had just won the Rip Curl Grom Search in North Carolina in August. Additionally, he won the regional championships of the National Scholastic Surfing Association in April. Below is a video of Zander surfing in Barbados, put together in early 2017.
Please be praying for all of his family and friends as they have just experienced a tragic loss. Let us know your thoughts and prayers on Facebook. Please also be praying for the family of the award-winning director who just died after battling cancer.