16-Year-Old Pro Surfer Zander Venezia Tragically Killed In Barbados While Riding A Wave During Tropical Storm

Just two weeks after winning the Rip Curl Grom Search in North Carolina, 16-year-old surfer Zander Venezia has tragically died while surfing in Barbados in the midst of Hurricane Irma.

According to People, on September 5, the pro surfer was catching “mega-swell” waves with a group of both pre-professional and professional surfers. The giant waves were a result of Hurricane Irma’s force. While Zander was surfing what was called a “Box by Box,” he was caught in a closeout set that caused him to be dragged to the bottom of the ocean. When he was pulled under the water, Venezia struck a reef that knocked him unconscious.

Surfline reports that the surfer’s friend, Nathan Florence, was able to pull him out of the water but he was bleeding and unresponsive at the time. When he was finally taken to shore, CPR was performed on the beach. Paramedics arrived and brought Venezia to the hospital and continued CPR for 75 minutes. The 16-year-old eventually began breathing again, but sadly, he never regained consciousness.

Zander’s sister, Bella Venezia, spoke to People following the tragedy.

“Zander was a positive boy, who always had a smile on his face that was contagious,” the 19-year-old said.

She went on to say that Zander knew how proud his family was of all his accomplishments and said that her brother truly loved his family and friends. When asked how the family was doing during this difficult time, Bella said that they are “not doing well at all” but her parents are staying strong.

Super happy to take the win at the @ripcurl_usa Grom Search in Outer Banks. Thanks to @mr_mattmyers for putting on a great event as usual.

A post shared by Zander Venezia (@zandervenezia) on

Zander’s Instagram page serves as a tribute to the sport he loved. While there are a few photos of him up close, most photos on Zander’s page are of him riding a wave. Fans have already started to pay tribute to the late surfer by honoring him in the comments section of his photos on the social media page.

“Now you’re riding the highest wave.”

“So sad but you were doing something you loved,” another user commented.

Surfline goes on to report that if there is a silver lining in the story at all, Dylan’s last words were a testament to the fact that he was having a great time prior to the awful incident.

“I just got the best wave of my life!” he told his friend.

Had a blast in Cocoa Beach for the Ron Jon Pro Jr. I ended up placing 5th in the very challenging conditions. PC: @surfsupwolf

A post shared by Zander Venezia (@zandervenezia) on

Yesterday, autopsy results confirmed that Zander was killed after being knocked unconscious and subsequently drowning. He did not suffer any fractures in the incident.

Do you think you would surf if you were in Zander’s situation? Let us know in the comments section.

[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]