An up-and-coming professional surfer died Tuesday while riding the giant waves in Barbados as Hurricane Irma pummeled the area.
Zander Venezia crashed into a reef, was knocked unconscious and drowned in Barbados on Tuesday.
The teenager, who had Olympic aspirations, flew to the Caribbean island with other pro surfers to ride the huge swells the category five hurricane has produced.
Local surf instructor and former pro Alan Burke told Surfline: ‘He was knocked unconscious and drowned. I feel empty. We are in shambles over here.’
‘I’m told that Zander get overturned by a closeout set, where he likely hit bottom. Nathan Florence got to him first, then shouted for the other guys and started to perform CPR. Zander was bleeding, and he wasn’t moving. They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was difficult.
‘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.’
He was injured in a rocky area known as Box by Box.
Emergency responders performed CPR on Venezia for 75 minutes before he arrived at a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Tributes are pouring in to Venezia’s Instagram account, which is full of photos of him riding mammoth waves.