Aspiring pro surfer Zander Venezia of Bridgetown, Barbados, passed away today after suffering a tragic neck injury surfing big waves at Box by Box, an infamous spot on the east side of the island. Several hours into a star-studded session, after Zander reportedly told Dylan Graves that he had caught the wave of his life, the 16-year-old Venezia was caught inside by a massive closeout set that propelled him into the spot’s rock-strewn bottom. Hawaiian Nathan Florence pulled Zander out of the water, where several surfers started performing CPR.
As Barbados icon Alan Burke told Surfline’s Matt Pruett earlier today, an ambulance arrived quickly and drove Zander to a nearby hospital, with Florence and Graves helping paramedics try to revive the young surfer for more than an hour. Zander recently traveled the East Coast with Alan Burke and his two sons Jacob and Josh, who grew up with Venezia in the tight-knit Barbados surfing community. “Zander was such a good, funny kid,” Alan Burke told Surfline. “He was always joking, and he just loved surfing. He was so jovial, such a joy to be around. I just can’t believe he’s gone. I’m a mess, man. We’re all a mess over here.”
ESM sends thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Venezia, who will be mourning the loss of the bright Bajan talent for some time to come. Stay tuned for more information on the incident today and any tributes in Zander’s name.