Kalani David, a professional surfer and skateboarder, suffered a seizure while surfing on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. He did not survive the medical emergency and was pronounced dead by first responders. He was only 24.
The Judicial Investigation Agency shared with the Associated Press that the athlete “suffered some kind of epileptic seizure and drowned,” which was reportedly on par for David. According to close friends and family of the surfer, he suffered congenital heart disease called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a rare disease that appears in between the heart’s upper and lower chambers. The illness creates an extra electrical pathway, which causes a rapid and abnormal heartbeat. It can also lead to paralysis and seizures.
According to Mayo Clinic, WPW syndrome “usually aren’t life-threatening, but serious heart problems can occur.” Despite doctors believing it is rare to undergo cardiac arrest from this disease, it “may lead to sudden cardiac death in children and young adults.”
Kalani David on his near-death experience while skating in California
This incident is not the first time David suffered a seizure while engaging in physical activity. In 2016, he suffered a seizure while skateboarding at a California skate park.
“I was skating with @max_jenson @tonechapo @travisrivera and all of a sudden I went into a seizure, fell on my face and woke up in an ambulance also my heart stopped,” the athlete wrote on Instagram after his first health scare. “I had 3 seizures after that when I got to the hospital. So grateful to be alive!”
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Active in both the skating and surfing communities since childhood, David was named “a skating prodigy” by age 14 when he was featured in Stab Magazine. He first began making headlines in the athletic world in 2012 when he won the Junior World Surfing title in Panama. According to the athlete himself, choosing between surfing and skating would never be an option.
“If it was life or death, and I had to choose skating or surfing, I’d choose death,” he explained, emphasizing his passion for the two sports.
Family members have been outspoken about their grief, including David’s brother Keoni. Upon the 24-year-old’s passing, Keoni penned a tribute to his brother on Instagram. “You are the best brother I could ever ask for. I will miss you Kalani,” Keoni wrote on social media.
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