Teen Surfer Sought Irma's Waves. It Cost Him His Life

Zander Venezia drowned in dangerous conditions in Barbados
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2017 9:35 AM CDT
Teen Pro Surfer Suffers Wrath of Irma
Zander Venezia   (World Surf League via Twitter)

A young professional surfer is dead after venturing into waves generated by Hurricane Irma. Zander Venezia, 16, was surfing on the east coast of Barbados on Tuesday when he ran into trouble with a closeout set—a wave that breaks all at once so that a surfer doesn't have a clear line through it. The wave sent Venezia barreling into the "shallow, rocky bottom" of Cattlewash Beach, where he was afterward found "bleeding and unresponsive," report Surfline and Nation News. Fellow surfers got Venezia to shore and performed CPR, but although the teen was reportedly breathing when he arrived at a hospital, he didn't recover. Initial reports suggested he broke his neck, though Surfline notes an autopsy revealed he drowned.

A Barbados native, Venezia was among several pro surfers who ventured out in search of giant waves resulting from Hurricane Irma. His last words were, "'I just got the best wave of my life!,'" per a surf instructor. "Then that next closeout set came through." Loop News reports a high surf advisory was in effect in Barbados on Tuesday, with swells expected to reach up to 13 feet. People were "strongly advised to stay well away from the water" because of the "large battering waves and dangerous rip-currents," the site noted. Venezia, who became a champion youth surfer in Barbados at age 11, was due to compete in the Rip Curl GromSearch National Championship in California next month after winning a qualifying event in August, reports Surfer. (More Hurricane Irma stories.)

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