Surfing world mourns death of Andy IronsHONOLULU (AP) — The unexpected and mysterious death of surfing champion Andy Irons has left the tight-knit surfing world saddened and stunned.
HONOLULU (AP) — The unexpected and mysterious death of surfing champion Andy Irons has left the tight-knit surfing world saddened and stunned.
From the waters of Puerto Rico to his home state of Hawaii, tributes poured out for the three-time world champion and soon-to-be father, who was found dead in his hotel bed Tuesday in the Dallas area.
A police report released Wednesday said the prescription drugs Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, and the sleeping aid Ambien were found in Irons' hotel room. There were no signs of trauma and foul play.
Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani said a ruling on the cause of death could take several weeks, pending the completion of lab tests.
Police were called when Irons did not answer his wake-up call and was found by hotel workers, who went to check on him. Irons was on his back with his bed covers and pillows neatly set, according to police. He had checked into the hotel Monday morning.
Irons was on a layover en route to his home on Kauai. He was returning from Puerto Rico, where he was supposed to compete in the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search. However he withdrew Sunday, telling tournament organizers that he had become ill during an event in Portugal.
The 32-year-old surfer won world championships in 2002, '03 and '04, and was a four-time winner of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Irons was making a strong comeback after taking last year away from surfing. He also was looking forward to being a father. His wife, Lyndie, is expecting the couple's first child in December.
Professionally, Irons was a fierce competitor and known for his rivalry with nine-time world champion Kelly Slater. Out of the water, Irons was remembered as a humble person who loved Hawaii. He also was intensely devoted to his family, friends and fans.
"Andy was incredible. 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," Australian surfer Mick Fanning said.
Irons was revered on Kauai, along with his younger brother, Bruce, also a pro surfer. Irons' father taught him to surf on the North Shore, where he was married three years ago.
In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press, the day he won his first title, Irons said being a champion wouldn't change him as a person. And friends say that was true.
"I'm totally the same person. I'm just a Kauai boy with a title now," Irons said.
In Puerto Rico, more than 130 surfers along the island's north coast paddled out Wednesday to clasp hands and form a circle as tradition dictates to honor a surfer who dies.
Fanning threw flowers into the middle as others cheered and splashed before they broke off one by one to catch a wave in honor of Irons.
"We're a surfing family," Fanning said in a statement. "We're all hurting right now."
The Association of Surfing Professionals said it would suspend competition again Thursday out of respect for Irons and expected the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search to resume Friday.
Slater was among those who paddled out. The surfers grabbed their boards with one hand and clutched bright yellow flowers with their other as they shuffled quietly through the sand and entered the water.
"Although he and I butted heads a lot a few years ago, I have so many good memories of Andy and we have become pretty good friends since," Slater said in a statement. "We're just baffled that he's gone."
In Hawaii, a surf tournament was held on Sunset Beach with 20- to 30-foot waves pounding the North Shore. The mood was somber with some grief-stricken surfers pulling out of the event.
"I paddled out this morning with a lei to put in the water and it hit home again. It makes you want to do it for him and be the animal that he was in the water, but at the same time you know that there's a piece of surfing that's not replaceable," friend Rainos Hayes said. "There's only one Andy Irons, and he was it."
Meanwhile, a flood of messages were posted online.
"RIP buddy you will always be in our hearts," tweeted Sunny Garcia, a former world champion from Hawaii.
Irons' family released a statement thanking the surfer's friends and fans and requesting privacy "so their focus can remain on one another during this time of profound loss."