Child Prodigy Skater And Surfer Kalani David Died After ‘Epileptic Seizure’ While Surfing in Costa Rica


Key Takeaways

  • Kalani David Feeney Barrientos, a former world junior surfing champion, died at age 24 due to a seizure while surfing.
  • He had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that can cause seizures and was known to affect him previously.
  • Kalani was a celebrated athlete with a Junior World Surfing title and numerous skateboarding accolades.
  • His death was reported by friends and confirmed by official sources.

Tragic Loss of Former Surfing Champion Kalani

San José, Costa Rica–Former world junior surfing champion Kalani David Feeney Barrientos died on Saturday, September 17, after a seizure while practicing the sport in Playa Hermosa in Jacó. He was 24 years old.

Kalani’s Battle with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Popularly known by his first name — Kalani — the surfer was born in Hawaii and had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. This congenital heart condition can lead to seizures and paralysis in individuals.

Kalani won the Junior World Surfing title in Panama in the under-16 category in 2012. He also competed in skateboarding circuits.

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Kalani’s Legacy and Sudden Death

Judicial Investigation Agency told the Associated Press that the child prodigy was surfing when he “apparently suffered some kind of epileptic seizure and drowned.”

One of the first to disclose the surfer’s death was filmmaker and photographer Peter King.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Peter King (@peterkingphoto)

“Oh friend, I love you Kalani! Only God knows the times of him. Life is not easy. Always fighting. Always learning,” he captioned an Instagram post of Kalani in adulthood, walking along the coast with a surfboard.

Freesurf magazine shared the update on its Facebook page, saying Kalani had “literally hundreds if not thousands of trophies.”

According to a report, Kalani’s heart condition came to light after he suffered a seizure while skating in Oceanside, California, in August 2016. The condition only worsened. Later that year, he had a six-hour seizure at his home in Oahu, Hawaii. He underwent surgery the following to remove the growth of the extra muscle contributing to the seizures.

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What We Think

The untimely demise of Kalani, a gifted athlete with a promising future, is a tragic reminder of the fragility of life, especially for those battling chronic health conditions.

His achievements in surfing and skateboarding are testimonies to his talent and determination. Kalani’s story is not just one of triumph but also a sobering account of the struggles faced by athletes with underlying health issues.

His legacy will continue to inspire young surfers and skateboarders around the world.


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