A former junior surfing champion who had battled seizures for years as part of a rare health syndrome died Saturday in Costa Rica while on the water.
Kalani David Feeney Barrientos, who competed using his first two names, suffered from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital heart disease that can cause paralysis and seizures.
David, who was 24, died in Jaco on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the country’s Judicial Investigation Agency said, according to a Spanish-language Associated Press report.
“He was surfing when he apparently suffered some kind of epileptic seizure and drowned. The death is still under investigation,” the agency said, according to a Google translation of the report.
David was born to a Costa Rican mother in Hawaii, the AP reported. In 2012, he won the World Junior Surfing Championship in the under-16 category.
Health issues dogged him. He underwent open-heart surgery at 19 after suffering a six-hour-long seizure, according to Men’s Journal.
Rest in Piece Kalani. Always a pleasure to be around❤️💔😔 One the most talented multi sport athletes in the world with a heart of gold! You are one of a kind, and going to be dearly missed by so many, say hi to the boys for me. Aloha Kalani David 🙏❤️🤙 pic.twitter.com/nbnxoDudkK
— Ryan Rawson (@NSB808) September 18, 2022
The surfer posted about his condition on Instagram in June.
“With these seizures I keep having my neurologist said no driving and no surfing until I stop having them. I mean I could surf but, if I was to have one and don’t get saved in time I’ll either die or become a vegetable because I don’t have enough air to my brain,” he wrote.
“I had a seizure driving and the other in the water within a couple months. The past couple years been having seizures sleeping and just Angels watching over me cause idk how I keep getting so lucky and living thru it all. Time to get this stuff in order so I can move ahead in life, at least I can skate and fish!”
David said he had been “putting these health issues to the side because I couldn’t believe it, but doing that has made it worse.”
He ended the post by writing, “Stoked to be alive and well. It’s not about what you want it’s about what you have and making the best out of it.”
Kalani David passed away while surfing in Costa Rica.
The 24-year-old Hawaiian skater-surfer left us after suffering a seizure. The talented boardsport battled Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome.
We send out our condolences to the family and friends of Kalani David. 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/kH0yPXcwI6
— SurferToday.com (@surfertoday) September 18, 2022
Photographer Peter King posted a tribute to David on Instagram.
“Oh man. Love you Kalani. Only God knows His timing. Life isn’t easy. Always battling. Always Learning. Heartbreaking News,” he posted.
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