Zander Venezia, a rising star in the professional surfing world, was killed on Tuesday while trying to ride a wave in Barbados during Hurricane Irma.
He was 16 years old.
According to the outlet Surfcide, Venezia - a native of Bridgetown, Barbados - was surfing a severe break known as “Box by Box" on the Caribbean island’s east side.
That's where he was caught by a closeout set of waves that drove him straight to the shallow, rocky bottom.
It was then that he smacked his head on the reef... was knocked unconscious ... and drowned.
Just to weeks ago, the teenager won the $250 top prize at the Rip Curl Grom Search in North Carolina.
"Super happy to take the win at the @ripcurl_usa Grom Search in Outer Banks," Venezia wrote as a caption to the above image at the time.
Venezia was in his native land with fellow surfers Nathan Florence, Dylan Graves, Balaram Stack and Asher Nolan, along with photographers Daniel Russo and Jimmy Wilson.
Stab Magazine reports that they had all flown in to island to surf Irma’s swell.
Irma has been classified as a Category 5 storm.
Experts believe it is on track to be the most powerful and damaging hurricane to ever form over the Atlantic Ocean, as nearly the entire state of Florida has been evacuated in response.
But back to Venezia:
On Tuesday morning, Florence was the first person to notice Venezia’s board floating in the water.
He rushed over to see what had happened and came upon Venezia’s limp body, still underwater and being hit hard by the building surf.
Former Bajan professional-turned-surf instructor Alan Burke explained to Surfcide that Florence screamed for assistance, attempting to get a bleeding and unresponsive Venezia to the shore safely.
"They tried to get him to the beach quickly, which was difficult,” Burke said.
“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 continued as follows:
"When they finally did get him in, they performed CPR on the beach.
"The ambulance came really swiftly from Speightstown, and the whole drive Nathan Florence, Dylan Graves and the paramedics continued to try and revive him.
"But once they got him to the hospital, Zander was breathing, but not responsive."
"From the time Nathan got to him in the water to when they arrived at the hospital, it was about 75 minutes of nonstop CPR."
Venezia died at the hospital, surrounded by his parents and sister.
“This saddens me in a way that my stomach actually hurts,” said friend Patrick Ruddy on instagram, adding:
“I’m floored by the news this morning that our good friend @zandervenezia passed away doing what we all love, surfing at home and enjoying the ocean.
"It’s times like this I reflect on how fragile life really is, and how quickly it can be taken away. Zander you’re gonna be really f—— missed!”
May Zander Venezia rest in peace.