Kirk Passmore's Family Releases Statement on Missing Surfer

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

OAHU, HAWAII - JANUARY 12: Ryan Hardy of Australia bodyboards a large wave while competing at Rockstar Games Pipeline Pro Bodyboarding contest on January 12, 2007 at the Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Big-wave surfer Kirk Passmore went missing earlier this week after getting swept up by a 20-foot wave and then struck by a second swell off Oahu's North Shore in Hawaii. His damaged board was later found down the beach.

Eliott C. McLaughlin of CNN passed along a statement from Passmore's family after authorities spent Thursday searching for the experienced surfer. It said in part that the 32-year-old business owner had been riding waves in Hawaii for nearly two decades.

"He started coming to Hawaii when he was 14 and was an experienced and expert surfer. He was not new to big wave surfing, having surfed most of the well-known big wave locations," said a statement from his family posted on the Brigham Young University-Hawaii website.

The statement, which is under the heading, "Kirk Passmore, February 11, 1981 to November 12, 2013," says the Utah-born and Carlsbad, California-reared 32-year-old enjoyed sports, including football, basketball and baseball, "but his love was in surfing."

It also says he is "survived" by his mother, father, stepmother and three siblings.

Keoki Kerr of Hawaii News Now reports a group of fellow surfers and rescue workers immediately began to search for Passmore after he wiped out and was struck by the second wave. Their efforts to find him were unsuccessful, however.

Jamie Sterling was also in the area and witnessed the incident. The surfer said it appeared he was injured during the initial fall and it caused him to lose his balance while trying to recover before the second wave struck.

He was seen swimming down with his feet up above the surface and we think he broke his ear drum because what happens when you break your ear drum is you have complete loss of balance and you have vertigo. So you have vertigo and he was swimming the opposite way and another wave came over him. So he had a two waves hold down. And after that we didn't see any more of him and we couldn't spot him.

At the time of the accident, the area where Passmore rode was under a high-surf warning due to waves that were reaching as high as 35 feet, according to the CNN report. Given the tough conditions, other surfers wondered why he didn't wear a floatation vest.

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Passmore's business partner Steve Matthews told Hawaii News Now that Passmore had plenty of experience riding big waves in that area, as well as in Mexico, among other places.

He clearly felt comfortable enough in the high-surf conditions to ride the biggest waves, but even the best riders are not immune to accidents.    

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