Elio Canestri: a surfing champion

Elio Canestri passed away after being attacked by a shark on Réunion Island.

The 13-year-old surfer was enjoying a few waves with friends in an area that is banned to swimmers when the shark attacked and dragged Elio further out to sea.

Canestri was pulled from the water by a boat, but the young wave rider had already suffered serious injuries to his stomach, legs, and arms.

"Thirteen-year-old Elio was one of our best up-and-coming surfers. Words can't describe how sad and angry I am. So young! Heartbreaking news," wrote Jeremy Flores, the pro surfer from Réunion Island.

Elio Canestri was 50 feet (15 meters) out into the sea when the shark attack took place.

"You Cannot Ban Surfing"

In the last four years, there have been 16 shark attacks on Réunion Island, seven of which resulted in deaths.

Hours before the tragedy, Elio left a note: "Don't worry, Mom. I'm going surfing. If there's no security, I won't surf."

"It's impossible to blame the young boy," underlined Jean Luc Arassus, president of the French Surfing Federation.

"Despite the ban in place and the instructions of his coach, how could one forbid a young boy of 13 from pursuing his passion when one lives on an island surrounded by the ocean and these magnificent waves."

"Surfing is part of the DNA of Reunion, and it is an uncontrollable passion. You cannot ban it."

Hundreds of friends and family members have paid tribute to the young surfing champion on a local beach.

Canestri will forever be remembered for his smile and passion for surfing.

Check out the most shark-infested waters in the world.

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