Young, Stand-Out Dana Point Surfer Passes Away At Salt Creek - Stab Mag
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21-year-old Evan McMillen.

Young, Stand-Out Dana Point Surfer Passes Away At Salt Creek

Family and friends remember 21-year-old Evan McMillen.

elsewhere // Jan 19, 2023
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Sunday, 21-year-old Evan McMillen was surfing at his home break of Salt Creek when he fell and was knocked unconscious.

Evan had gone for a solo session and wasn’t surfing the main peak. Nobody else was in the water near him.

The cams show Evan getting to his feet and suddenly falling. He never emerges or paddles back out. It’s unclear whether he hit the bottom or his board. Evan was discovered many minutes later and pulled out of the shorebreak, unconscious. CPR was performed until the ambulance arrived and rushed him away. Ultimately, too much time had passed and Evan could not be resuscitated. 

An absolute tragedy.

Evan loved to surf, but he was also well-known as a hard-charging bodyboarder. “He was really making his way in the world of bodyboarding and was going places. He came out of nowhere and in six months was easily one of California’s best bodyboarders,” said Evan’s main sponsor, the revered Jeff Hubbard of Hubboards. 

A vigil was held at Salt Creek for Evan. Attendees said that the clouds broke and a rainbow appeared. Photo: Lucas Taub

Many took to social media to express how fun it was to share a line-up with Evan. Friends posted clips of them splitting peaks and trading off tubes with him, especially during this last run of swell, where he was a remarkable force in some of the heaviest waves the region had to offer.

However, a person’s surf-self is but a fraction of their whole. Evan was much more than a talented wave rider.

“The last time I saw Evan, we paddled out together to check on some photographers who we thought were in trouble and might need some help. I was impressed by Evan’s willingness to paddle out into some of the biggest surf he’d ever seen just to back me up and look out for two people he didn’t even know,” said World Champion bodyboarder, Jared Houston. 

The night got colder, but the people kept coming. Photo: Lucas Taub

Evan’s brother, Eian, said the following:

“Evan was such a beautiful person inside and out. He always pushed me to be the best I could be. Every time we surfed he would always teach me what I could do to become better. I would ask for advice and he would be more than happy to tell me. Evan loved and looked up to so many local surfers in the community.”

Eian said that his family will be starting a bodyboard foundation so that Evan can continue to inspire the next generation. “He always strived to help and push the younger crew to ride,” Eian said.

Evan making the bodyboard vs. surf decision a little easier. Photo: Instagram

I wish Evan could read the 329 (and counting) comments on his latest Instagram post (shared just after this last historic California swell). His friends and family share which attributes they love and miss the most about him. Old acquaintances bring up funny moments from as far back as elementary school. His girlfriend expresses her love and heartbreak. There are apologies, thanks yous, and so much love.

Stab sends our thoughts and prayers to Evan’s loved ones. There is a GoFundMe set up by Evan’s uncle to help support his family.

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