"Today we witnessed the worst case scenario. Thankful to see the stoke of his last wave [pictured here] and that's how I'll always remember this kid. RIP, Zander Venezia." - Jimmy Wilson
Zander Venezia Got This Barrel Before His Tragic Death
The photo and story of the 16-year old Barbados local's last wave
There’s an old saying: “Death is as near to the young as to the old; here is all the difference: death stands behind the young man's back, before the old man's face.” Following the sudden and as-of-yet unexplained death of 16-year-old Zander Venezia, the Barbados community is feeling death all around.
With swell from Hurricane Irma quickly filling in on Barbados’ east coast, Venezia paddled out this morning at an undisclosed reef, alongside a host of locals and longtime friends, as well as Nathan Florence, Dylan Graves, and Balaram Stack, who had flown in for the swell with photographers Daniel Russo and Jimmy Wilson.
According to Wilson, after catching a handful of beautiful waves throughout the morning, Venezia's board was spotted floating inside of everyone, his limp body underwater being hammered by the building surf. Nathan Florence was the first to reach him, and began administering CPR.
“Nathan and Balaram were the first to get to him,” Wilson said. “His board was tombstoning, he was underwater. I got a photo of his last wave[see above]. But he made that wave. Didn’t fall. I think it might have happened on his way in. We’re not really sure what happened, other than he told someone he was going in.”
Surfers clamored to safely bring him to shore, a daunting task at the notoriously treacherous reefbreak the crew had been surfing. Once on the beach, Florence and a fleet of heroic locals desperately tried to resuscitate the 16-year-old, performing CPR until medics arrived on the scene. Venezia was pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon, from complications of a broken neck, though details are still forthcoming.
Lauded as one of Barbados' up and coming stars, Venezia was still reeling from a big win just two weeks ago, at the Rip Curl Grom Search in North Carolina.
“You had such an amazing session today,” Saint Augustine’s Asher Nolan, who witness the session this morning, posted to Instagram. “Surfed for 4 hours. You were humble, respectful, full of positive energy that every kid should look up to and live the way you did. Gone too soon. My heart is heavy. The Venezias always treated me like family and it hurts that they have to go through losing someone so special.”
Our hearts go out to Zander's parents, Lisa and Louis Venezia, his sister, Bella, and to the Barbados surfing community at large.