Israel Barona, a surfing star in Ecuador and Olympic hopeful, passed away following a medical emergency in his hotel room in Central America this week.
He was only 34.
The National Civil Police (PNC) reported the death of Barona on Tuesday, announcing the young surfer suffered seizures in his hotel in El Zonte, La Libertad.
“He was taken to a hospital, however he was already deceased,” PNC said on X.
“Homicide is ruled out” … indicating there was no foul play.
The Ecuadorian Olympic Committee confirmed the sad news, saying the surf champ was in El Salvador for a competition when he died.
“The Olympic Movement extends its heartfelt condolences to the Barona Matute family, following the death of the great athlete of Team Ecuador Surf, Israel Barona Matute,” the committee said on Tuesday.
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“Rest in peace, champion.”
Barona’s surfing career started when he was 10 years old … and he won several national championships. He repped Ecuador at the World Surfing and Bolivarian Games.
Israel also coached the sport with his sister Dominic Barona who is one of the best female surfers in Latin America.
Fans and fellow surfers paid tribute to Barona on social media, including Rafael Romero who called him “a great friend and mentor of the ocean ❤️.”
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