Brazilian Surf Champion Shot Dead

Ricardo dos Santos

Brazilian professional surfer Ricardo dos Santos has lost his life after being shot several times in the stomach and chest outside his beachside home. The 24-year-old suffered a perforated lung and kidney and died after four operations failed to stop his bleeding. It is still not entirely sure how the shooting occurred but Brazilian media have reported that police have arrested a young man and his 17-year-old brother. The older man has been identified as an off-duty police officer – 25 year-old military police officer Luis Paulo Mota Brentano – who claims he shot dos Santos in self-defence and that his behaviour was justified. His brother alleges that two men, one being dos Santos, threatened them with knives near Embaú Guard beach, Brazil.

Ricardo dos Santos was a popular personality who made waves on the world surfing scene in 2012 when he eliminated fellow competitors Taj Burrow, Jordy Smith and Kelly Slater at the Billabong pro competition in Tahiti – on the notorious Teahupo?o reef break. He also picked up the Andy Irons award for Most Committed Performance and in 2013 was awarded The Wave of The Winter for an impressive barrel he caught at Hawaii’s Pipeline. Fans and fellow surfers alike have gathered at Pipeline in honour and remembrance of their friend and hero, a man described as “one of the greatest barrel riders of his short time” (Kelly Slater). Fellow surfer and good friend, Adriano de Souza, posted on Facebook saying he had lost a “great friend…a cheerful person, good hearted and good about life”. Brazilian surfer, Gabriel Medina asked “Why does this happen to good people?” and wrote that dos Santos was “always helping others, smiling from ear to ear everyday”.

Dos Santos’ passing is all the more tragic given his own personal efforts to curb violence in the Embaú Guard area of Brazil. In 2011 he posted on social media imploring his local community to unite together and”put an end to this farce”. He was bothered that people did not value the beauty and purity of the area he called home. The fact that Ricardo’s killer was a member of the police force who are meant to protect its citizens is a sad reflection of Brazil’s internal social and often violent problems.

Ricardo dos Santos passed away the day after being shot after many operations and 40 litres worth of blood transfusions, some of which were donated after fellow surfers posted online asking specifically for blood donations (due to a national shortage of blood in Brazil). The tragedy is a senseless loss of life highlighting the growing number of murders yearly in Brazil, a beautiful yet scary place to be.

 


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