Former world junior surfing champion Kalani David died this weekend on a Costa Rican beach after suffering a seizure while in the sea practicing the sport in which he excelled, friends and authorities. He was 24 years old.
Kalani David Feeney Barrientos, known internationally only by his first names, was born in Hawaii to a Costa Rican mother and suffered from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital heart disease that caused paralysis and seizures.
However, his illness did not prevent him from succeeding in sports and he practiced both surfing and skateboarding. He won the Junior World Surfing title in Panama in 2012, in the Under-16 category, while competing for the first places in the main skate circuits.
The young American died on Saturday morning in Playa Hermosa, Jacó, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, confirmed the Judicial Investigation Agency.
“He was surfing when he apparently suffered some kind of epileptic seizure and drowned,” the entity said in a message to The Associated Press. “The death is still under investigation.”
The filmmaker Peter King was one of the first to disclose his death through social networks, while praising his fighting spirit.
“Oh friend, I love you Kalani! Only God knows the times of him. Life is not easy. Always fighting. Always learning,” he stated.
Various figures from the world of surfing echoed the news shortly after, such as eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater.
“Kalani was one of the most talented surfers/skaters in the world,” he said on his networks.
His illness forced him to pause his sports career on several occasions but then he resumed it.
“He was constantly pushing his limits,” Slater added. “My condolences to the great family and friends that Kalani had on every beach around the world.”