The global surfing community suffered a great loss on November 2, 2010 as three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons was found dead in his hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday morning.
After officially withdrawing from the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico due to an illness that he believed he contracted in Portugal, Irons left Puerto Rico with the intention of returning home to Kauai to receive medical attention. He flew to Miami, Florida where, according to TheAge.com he spent two days on an IV drip. After receiving treatment, Irons continued his trip home to Kauai, but was unable to board a connecting flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
According to a police report filed by Officer Pat Herring of DFW Police, Irons checked into room 324 at the adjoining Grand Hyatt Hotel at 8:47 AM CST on November 1, 2010. The following morning, two hotel staff workers discovered Irons’ body lifeless, face-up in bed while visiting his room after Irons failed to respond to a wake up call. The investigating officers also found two prescription medications in the hotel room: Alprazolem (an anti-anxiety medication more commonly known by the brand name Xanax) and Zolpidem (a sleep medication more commonly known by the brand name Ambien).
An autopsy conducted on November 3, 2010 by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner yielded inconclusive results. According to the report, neither foul play nor trauma were detected, but “the cause and manner of death are pending completion of postmortem laboratory studies.”
Those close to Irons say that he contracted Dengue fever, an illness that has inspired a lethal epidemic in Puerto Rico, killing 29 people this year, but conclusive results concerning the origin of his death will not be available for up to ninety days.
As a tribute to Andy Irons, the Rip Curl Pro decided to postpone competition until Friday, November 5, 2010.
“I literally will never forget [my first] wave,” said Andy Irons in the Billabong short film I Surf Because…. “‘Til the day I die, that was one of the purest moments of my whole life. And it always will be.”
Andy Irons is the first-ever ASP World Champion to pass away. He is survived by his wife, Lyndie, who is expecting the birth of their first son next month, his brother, Bruce, and loving family.
Reactions from the surf community:
“Andy was an absolutely gifted individual. I’m lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I’m made of because of Andy. My thoughts are with Bruce and Lyndie and their parents and all of his many friends around the world. It’s a huge and far too premature loss for all of us. He was the most intense competitor I’ve ever known and one of the most sensitive people. He had so much life left in him and it hurts to think about. We look forward to his memory living on with our memories of him and his child on the way. There are a lot of uncles awaiting his arrival. I really miss Andy. He had a really good heart.” – Kelly Slater
“The surfers today lost a brother. We all lost one of our fellow tribesman and one of our family that we’ve been traveling with for many, many years. We lost a World Champion. We lost a friend, and it’s an extremely difficult and sad day for all of us.” – Brodie Carr, ASP CEO
“I think he was a person that always wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn’t try to impress anyone. He was just all about what he wanted to do. He was an amazing competitor; he was an amazing friend. And also, he was a brother. I haven’t just lost a friend, I’ve lost my brother here. It’s hard to take.” – Mick Fanning
“I’m thankful to be a part of Andy’s family. I’ve traveled with him since I was 12 years old. Just the person that he was, it made me a better person. It made everyone around him a better person.” – CJ Hobgood
The following statement was issued by the Irons family:
The world of surfing mourns an incredibly sad loss today with the news that Hawaii’s Andy Irons has died. Andy was a beloved husband, and a true champion.
Irons, 32, withdrew from a professional surfing event in Puerto Rico last weekend due to illness, and passed away during a layover en-route to his home in Kauai, Hawaii. He had reportedly been battling with Dengue Fever, a viral disease.
At this time the family thanks his friends and fans for their support, and asks that the community respect its privacy. The family also asks to not be contacted so their focus can remain on one another during this time of profound loss.
Irons, who began his career with the elite ASP World Tour in 1998, went on to collect 20 elite tour victories, four Triple Crown of Surfing Titles, three consecutive ASP World Titles and change the sport forever with his unparalleled ability and comprehensive approach to surfing.
The Associated Press contributed information to this report.