Two weeks after being reported missing, the body of a popular big wave surfer was found in Mexico.
Adam Francis D’Esposito, also known as Biff, was discovered by Mexican officials near Rosarito, just over the U.S. border near San Diego, earlier this month but family members only learned of his death Wednesday, according to Fox 5 San Diego.
The local outlet also reported a coroner determined the 39-year-old’s cause of death was drowning. How exactly the accomplished water sportsman drowned remains unclear.
D’Esposito’s sister Briana D’Esposito confirmed the news on Facebook writing, “It is with great sadness and the deepest sorrow that we have confirmed the death of my brother, Adam Francis Kennedy D’Esposito also known as ‘Biff.'”
“The details of my brother’s death are still being sorted out, we kindly ask for your respect during this confusing time. Our hearts are heavy as we come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us,” Briana continued.
“He was a very charismatic person with a big heart, passionate personality and a deep love for surfing.”
“He had a huge heart for his young daughter and enjoyed spending so much time with her in his last few months. The impact that he had on so many was incredibly evident to my family through your support, love and efforts to help us during this highly stressful & worrisome time.”
According to Fox 5, D’Esposito, who lived in Carlsbad, California, went to Mexico on Sept. 2 to surf and visit his father. On Sept. 6, D’Esposito went out on the town in his father’s station wagon and never returned.
A local surf shop owner told NBC 7 he saw D’Esposito two days later barefoot and acting as though someone was following him. According to website Surfer, he was soaking wet and running down a stretch of freeway.
His sisters also explained to CBS 8 that D’Esposito suffered with mental illness. “This year in February, he was diagnosed as bipolar,” Briana said.
However, being that D’Esposito was an extremely skilled swimmer, and previously survived a shark attack, his family finds it hard to believe he drowned.
“Since my brother is a big wave surfer, spending the better part of the last 20 years in Tahiti surfing some of the most dangerous waves in the world. It’s very heard for us and many of his friends to believe he would just drown,” D’Esposito’s sister Mary told NBC 7.
“It seems like there has to be some more to the story that led him to that point.”
However, authorities believe there was no foul play involved.
In 2012, D’Esposito — who is the father of a 6-year-old girl — escaped unscathed after a shark attacked his surfboard near legendary Tahiti surf spot Teahupo’o.
D’Esposito was well known amongst the surfing community and following his disappearance, champion surfer Kelly Slater tried to do his bit to help find D’Esposito, posting a missing poster on Instagram.
“A familiar face in our surf world has been missing for nearly two weeks, last seen in Baja Malibu, Mexico on 8/9 driving a silver Volvo station wagon. It really hits home when someone you know goes missing. Please, anyone with any info whatsoever call the numbers on this post and/or leave a message below. Anything you might possibly have seen or heard could be helpful. You may have seen ‘Biff’ surfing in Tahiti or San Diego over the years. He’s been a familiar face in many lineups,” Slater captioned the post.
D’Esposito’s sisters have set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for his daughter Annabella’s education.
“The contributions from this page will be dedicated to helping this beautiful family move forward and help take care of Adam’s little girl, Annabella, who is 6 years old,” the page reads.
The GoFundMe will also help transport D’Esposito’s body to the U.S. from Mexico, raise funds for his funeral, covering his family’s travel costs for the service and setting up a scholarship fund for Annabella.