Brazilian Surfer Ricardo dos Santos, 24, Shot Dead Outside His Home

by Owen James Burke

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Ricardo dos Santos, in his element. Photo: Henrique Pinguim via Globo

Initial reports are many and varying, but the fact is that Mr. Ricardo dos Santos, a young, promising, dauntless Brazilian surfer who was just featured on the cover of Surfer Magazine’s recent November Issue sitting back as cool as you like in a beautiful, gaping barrel, has died after suffering three gunshot wounds to the abdomen.

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Tube riding was dos Santos’ expertise, and this wave landed him on the cover of Surfer Magazine’s November, 2014 issue. Photo: Islandeye

According to Surfer Magazine, dos Santos had encountered a group of people using drugs outside of his family home in Guarda do Embaú, Brazil and had gone over to ask them to stop; there were families around, including his own. Instead, someone — perhaps an off-duty police officer — stuck the barrel of a gun in his gut and fired three times.

The young surf prodigy was helivaced to a local hospital where doctors performed four emergency surgeries and called on the Brazilian public to donate blood, but one of the three rounds had punctured dos Santos’ kidney, and the wounds were too severe.

Police have taken two men into custody, brothers aged 17 and 25, the eldest of whom is purported to be a police officer himself, though no names have been released.

Ricardo dos Santos was a gracious, caring member of the community of Guarda do Embaú who loved his family and his town, and helped put Brazil under the spotlight as a talent pool for professional surfing. Unbearably tragic as his story may have ended, dos Santos has died not only as a hero of surfing, but an honorable guardian of his family and community.

Friend and fellow ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) surfer Adriano de Souza had these warm words to say in response to dos Santos’ passing (loosely translated via Adriano de Souza’s Facebook page):

“What do you say when you lose a great friend? What do you say when you lose a person so cheerful, with such a good heart as Ricardinho? I have so many good memories of him that it is difficult to choose just one. But I want to keep in mind forever his qualities and his courage. Those we love never die, they just leave before us. May you be with God my friend and may you protect us from above.”

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A photograph posted to friend and fellow professional Brazilian surfer Adriano de Souza’s Facebook page

In 2012, dos Santos won the Andy Irons Forever Inspiration Award at the Billabong Pro, Tahiti, in 2012, defeating Kelly Slater with this outstanding display of smooth barrel gliding:

Our thoughts are with his family, friends and beloved community.  — CD, BLam and OJB

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