Kalani David, Surfing Champion, Dies at 24 After Suffering Seizure in Water

by Chris Haney

Over the weekend, former world junior surfing champion Kalani David suffered a seizure while in the ocean doing what he loved. Sadly, the young man passed away at just 24 years old following the seizure.

According to an Associated Press report, David was surfing in Costa Rica on Saturday. While in the water, he suffered the seizure and drowned, per Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department.

“He was surfing when he apparently suffered some kind of epileptic seizure and drowned. The death is still under investigation,” the department said to the AP.

The outlet reported that the surfer had a congenital heart condition that put him at risk of having seizures. David had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which can trigger a rapid heartbeat and therefore seizures. In fact, he underwent heart surgery in 2016 for the condition.

Before having the surgery six years ago, David spoke about his condition in a 2016 interview. He knew the risks that were involved and talked candidly about them with Stab magazine.

“If it was life or death, and I had to choose skating or surfing, I’d choose death,” Kalani David said in the interview.

The champion surfer has spoken openly for years about suffering multiple seizures during his life. He posted about his condition and on one occasion, shared a scary story of suffering several seizures in the same day.

“I was skating with @max_jenson @tonechapo @travisrivera,” David wrote on Instagram. “And all of a sudden I went into a seizure, fell on my face and woke up in an ambulance also my heart stopped. I had 3 seizures after that when I got to the hospital. So grateful to be alive!”

Friends and Family React to the Death of Kalani David

Following the tragic news of Kalani David passing away, many of his family and friends reacted to his death on social media. The surfer’s younger brother, Keoni David, posted a heartfelt message on his Instagram story over the weekend.

“You are the best brother I could ever ask for. I will miss you Kalani,” Keoni wrote.

Iconic surfer Kelly Slater reportedly shared a photo of Kalani David on his Instagram story after hearing the sad news. He paid tribute to David writing, “@KalaniDavid trying my board as a little kid. Kalani was one of the most talented surfer/skaters on Earth. Constantly pushing the limits every time he was on his feet. Condolences to the huge community of friends Kalani had coast to coast and across the globe.”

As mentioned by Slater, Kalani David was also an accomplished skateboarder. But surfing is where he made his mark at just 14 years old. He won the gold medal at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Panama in 2012. According to his X-Games bio, David grew up surfing and skateboarding and was already considered a seasoned veteran at the age of 14.