Surfer Adam Francis D’Esposito, who once survived a shark attack unscathed, has been discovered dead after being declared missing several weeks ago. The 39-year-old was last seen at Campo Villa Lepro near Baja Malibu, Mexico on September 8.
Adam went to Baja on Sept. 5 in his father’s 2001 silver Volvo. Baja is a popular place among surfers and frequently visited by Adam since he was a teenager. According to his family, the pro surfer said that he would be back the next day.
Days, however, passed and Adam has not yet returned home. His sister, Briana, said that the Adam was last seen by a surf shop owner, who said that he looked scared and in a bad state.
Adam was also spotted barefoot and shirtless running alongside a highway and was even filmed by a passing driver. Briana, who saw the footage, confirmed that the man in the video was her brother.
Adam’s mysterious disappearance prompted a frantic search. Fellow surfers even joined in the efforts, posting Adam’s photo on Instagram with a missing person caption.
On Tuesday, his family members learned that Adam is dead. Briana said that officials in Mexico recovered his body without identification on Sept. 9 and took this to a morgue. It took more than two weeks before the family was notified about Adam’s death.
“Our hearts are heavy as we come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. He was a very charismatic person with a big heart, passionate personality and a deep love for surfing,” Briana posted on Facebook.
The official cause of the surfer’s death was declared to be drowning but the family raised doubts about this saying that Adam’s strength as a surfer and swimmer makes drowning unlikely.
“Since my brother is a big wave surfer, spending the better part of the last 20 years in Tahiti surfing some of the most dangerous waves in the world. It’s very hard for us and many of his friends to believe he would just drown,” Adam’s sister Mary told NBC 7.
Authorities, however, said that there was no foul play.
The family earlier said that Adam was battling with mental illness, which could have played a role in his disappearance. Briana said that her brother was diagnosed as bipolar in February.
Adam’s family and friends have set up a Gofundme page to help with the funeral expenses and help support Adam’s young daughter Annabella.