Former WWE Superstar Shad Gaspard disappeared in the water of a California beach while swimming with his son. His body was identified on Venice Beach Wednesday morning.
On Sunday Shad and his 10 year-old son Aryeh were swimming on the first weekend the beaches were opened after Los Angeles County lifted the stay-at-home order in response to the Coronavirus. Shad and his son went 50 to 70 yards out into the ocean when the lifeguard saw the pair at 4 p.m.
The ocean was very choppy, with six foot swells and a strong rip current due to bad weather. When the lifeguard attempted to rescue the pair with a “rescue can” or small buoy-like device to tow distressed swimmers back to shore they were 200 yards from where they were first spotted. The rescue attempt failed because of the size of the waves.
The “Impact Zone” Experience
They were caught in the “impact zone.” Kenichi Haskett, Section Chief of the LA County Fire Department Lifeguard Division who personally debriefed the lifeguard described what it’s like to be in the “impact zone.”
“The best way I can describe it. 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,” Haskett said.
The Second Rescue Attempt
After the first attempt failed the lifeguard had to make a choice as to who to rescue first. The 6-foot-6-inch 270 pound pro wrestler or the 10 year old boy. When the lifeguard came close Shad shouted to “take my son.”
In less than three minutes Aryeh was safe on shore without any injuries.
“Dad told me to push off to the guy,” Aryeh told Steve Smith, a firefighter-paramedic from Rescue 63 in Venice.Aryeh kept saying that: “Dad told me to push off to the guy.”
When the lifeguard headed back out to rescue Shad he was deep in the “impact zone.”
“A wave pushed him under in the impact zone,” said Haskett. “He didn’t resurface after that.”
Rescue divers immediately went to work to try and find Shad. The search went on into the night. The search resumed at 4 a.m. the following morning despite bad weather. The Coast Guard suspended their search, but Shad was still considered a missing person until he was discovered later in the week.
Stephanie McMahon tweeted out a message of prayers, love and strength to the Gaspard family.
A Little History On Shad Gaspard’s WWE Career
Shad entered the WWE as part of the tag team Cryme Tyme with his partner JTG in 2006. The pair were an over-the-top stereotype of street thugs. However, despite the gimmick being seemingly destined to devolve into racism somehow it didn’t. The pair had charisma and solid in-ring work. In no time the team became fan favorites.
The pair became close friends and took the team to the indie circuit with the slightly modified Crime Time name. JTG posted a touching text from Shad on his twitter to remember his friend.
Everyone here at The Illuminerdi send our thoughts and prayers towards the family of Shad Gaspard and everyone close to him during this difficult time of grief and mourning. He was will be remembered fondly in the world of WWE.