A teenage professional surfer has been killed after surfing waves created by Hurricane Irma.
Zander Venezia, of Bridgetown, Barbados, was surfing on the east coast when he was thrown into a shallow reef on Tuesday, Surfline reports.
The 16-year-old was knocked unconscious and drowned, according to an autopsy.
Surf instructor Alan Burke told the channel: “I’m told Zander got overturned by a closeout set, where he likely hit bottom. Zander was bleeding and he wasn’t moving... They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was difficult... There’s a lot of big rocks around, and some stick out of the water.”
According to Burke, Venezia’s last words to his friend Dylan Graves shortly before the accident were: “I just got the best wave of my life!”
Zander’s sister Bella Venezia, 19, told People: “Zander was a positive boy, who always had a smile on his face that was contagious. He loved his family and friends so much and knew how proud we all were of him and his accomplishments.”
Zander began surfing when he was just five and his dream had been to surf at the 2020 Olympic games in Japan.
The son of a surfer, he had won several accolades and was described by Barbadian daily Nation News as “one of the island’s most promising junior surfers.”