The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s lifeguard division tweeted Wednesday morning that authorities had answered a call at the Venice Pier to a report of a body “along the shoreline … that matches the description of Sunday’s missing swimmer.” Police say the body was identified as Gaspard’s.
A section chief in the lifeguard division described the terrifying situation that the Gaspards quickly found themselves in on the first weekend the beaches were reopened to swimmers and surfers during the novel coronavirus pandemic. With swells reaching six feet, a lifeguard tried to get a “rescue can” — a floater used to tow swimmers to shore — to them, but “because of the size of the waves, the boy couldn’t secure it,” Kenichi Haskett, the section chief, told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel.
“The best way I can describe it,” Haskett said, “is like being inside a front-loading washing machine. The waves keep crashing on you, pushing you down. … I’ve been through that, those kind of rescues. You think you might die.”
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We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad. . . Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad. . . The Entire Gaspard & Chittick Family
Haskett said that the lifeguard faced the reality that he could not save both, particularly because Gaspard was 6-foot-7 and weighed around 270 pounds. “Based on the gentleman’s size and the conditions in the water …” Haskett said, “these are choices we do not want to make.”
The Coast Guard tweeted Tuesday that it had suspended the search for Gaspard “after 16.5 hours of searching with multiple rescue assets covering 70 square nautical miles and seven search patterns.”
In an Instagram post Tuesday, the Gaspard family expressed gratitude to “the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad,” and added: “Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad.”
My prayers and hope for Shad Gaspard’s wife, son and family during this unthinkable time. Man, this is a tough one. A really tough one.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 20, 2020
In WWE, Gaspard was part of the tag-team group Cryme Time, along with his partner, JTG. He retired in 2010 and had roles on TV and in movies, including Kevin Hart’s 2015 comedy “Get Hard.”
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