Zander Venezia, a 16-year-old professional, died while catching a wave in Barbados during Hurricane Irma, the World Surf League said.
According to the World Surf League, Venezia, a Barbados native, reportedly fell off his surfboard and hit a shallow reef at a beach called Box by Box.
The report says that Venezia and other surfers were riding a swell generated by the Category Five Hurricane Irma on Tuesday, September 5.
An autopsy revealed that the teen was knocked unconscious by the fall from his board and then drowned. Instructor Alan Burke told Surfline that Zander was knocked over by a “close out set” , which is “a wave that closes in from both sides.”
We are shocked and saddened to report that Zander Venezia, a budding young pro surfer from Bridgetown, Barbados, died today after surfing a particularly heavy session at a notoriously nasty wave on Barbados’ east coast. While the family waits for an official autopsy, it is believed that Zander possibly broke his neck upon hitting the shallow reef.
After getting his fair share of big barrels all morning, the 16-year-old got caught by a closeout set, which drove him into the shallow, rocky bottom. Bleeding and unresponsive, he was pulled out of the water by Nathan Florence, who was among a cadre of pros who flew over to Barbados to catch the mega-swell currently being generated by Hurricane Irma.
“Horrible news,” original Bajan pro-turned-surf instructor Alan Burke told Surfline. “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, who was surfing wit Venezia in Barbados, was the first to start performing CPR.
“Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was very difficult,” Burke said. “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.”
At least 10 people have died in Hurricane Irma so far.