What a tragedy.
It’s being reported that 16-year-old pro surfer Zander Venezia died on Tuesday while catching the mega-swell waves in Barbados caused by Hurricane Irma.
The Bridgetown, Barbados native was surfing a heavy break called “Box by Box” when he was knocked unconscious and drowned after getting caught by a closeout set that sent him into the shallow, rocky bottom where he hit his head on the reef.
Former Bajan pro-turned-surf instructor Alan Burke told Surfcide of the devastating accident:
“I’m told that Zander get overturned by a closeout set, where he likely hit bottom. 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’ 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.”
Alan added of Zander’s likable and fun personality:
“He was one of my sons’ [Josh and Jacob Burke] best friends, and like a son to me. 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.”
Our deepest condolences go out to Zander’s family and friends. Stay safe out there, everyone.
[Image via Instagram.]