Pro Surfer Zander Venezia Dies at Age 16

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2017

Two tourists sail on paddle board on the water along a beach as the sun sets in Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
JEWEL SAMAD/Getty Images

Professional surfer Zander Venezia died at the age of 16 on Tuesday following an accident in the water on the east coast of Barbados

Per Matt Pruett of, Venezia was found "bleeding and unresponsive" after being pulled out of the water. He had been driven into the "shallow, rocky bottom" due to a large wave. 

Surf instructor Alan Burke explained to Pruett the situation leading to Venezia's death:

"I'm told that Zander get overturned by a closeout set [a type of wave that can block a surfer's path], 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."

Pruett noted Florence was part of a group of pro surfers who went to Barbados to ride the waves generated by Hurricane Irma.

Burke also noted Florence performed CPR on Venezia on the beach. He was "breathing, but not responsive" after paramedics got him to the hospital, Burke told Pruett. 

Burke also shared Venezia's last words before the accident with Pruett.

"He told Dylan, 'I just got the best wave of my life!'" Burke said. "Dylan was the last person to speak to Zander. Then that next closeout set came through."