Aurelio Prieto: competing at the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship | Photo: Gonzales/ISA

Ecuadorian big wave surfer Aurelio Prieto has passed away while surfing two-meter waves in Manta, Ecuador.

"The Negro," 54, was catching waves with a few fellow surfers when a sneaky wave broke and dragged them around. According to the witnesses, Prieto was pulled into the bottom of the sea, and he may have hit it with his head.

He was found unconscious by his friends Raúl Cabrera and Fernando Alvarado, who took him out of the water and carried him to the beach. A group of firefighters tried to revive Aurelio Prieto, but it was impossible. He was declared dead soon after.

"We are shocked by the untimely passing of our dear friend Aurelio Prieto Barriga. It has been a devastating blow to the Ecuadorian surfing family. A great friend, great surfer and extraordinary father. He was unconditionally committed to the career of his son Aurelio Jr," noted Xavier Aguirre, president of the Ecuadorian Surfing Federation.

Aurelio Prieto was one of the most prestigious surfers in Ecuador. He hailed from Guayaquil, but he had relocated to Manta. "The Negro" was a member of the Ecuadorian team at the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship.

His son Aurelio Prieto, a member of the junior national team, was surfing with his father when the accident took place. Manta is Ecuador's ultimate surf city, and it has also hosted several bodyboarding and windsurfing events.

Aurelio Prieto: a big wave surfer from Ecuador | Photo: Swell Ecuador

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