The world of professional surfing was rocked by tragedy on November 2, 2010, when Andy Irons, one of the sport's most celebrated and talented figures, passed away at the age of 32.
His untimely death left a void in the surfing community and prompted many questions about the circumstances surrounding his demise.
In this article, we will explore the life and career of Andy Irons, the circumstances of his death, and the legacy he left behind.
Who Was Andy Irons?
Andy was a professional surfer from the United States. He was born on July 24, 1978. His real name was Philip Andrew Irons.
Irons began surfing with his brother Bruce on the shallow and treacherous waves of Kauai, Hawaii, before being recognized by a local surfboard brand and flown to Oahu's North Shore to compete and hone his skill.
He won three world titles (2002, 2003, 2004), three Quiksilver Pro France wins (2003, 2004, 2005), two Rip Curl Pro Search titles (2006 and 2007), and 20 elite-tour victories, winning the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times between 2002 and 2006.
He won at practically every ASP venue except the Gold Coast, Brazil, and Portugal.
How Did Andy Irons Die?
Irons passed away on November 2, 2010. After failing to react to knocks on the door, two hotel employees discovered him lying in bed on his back with the blankets drawn up to his chin, and they stepped in to investigate.
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office, Irons died from a cardiac arrest caused by a significant blockage of a key artery of the heart.
The official autopsy report also includes “acute mixed drug ingestion” as a second cause of death, with alprazolam, methadone, benzoylecgonine (a cocaine metabolite), and traces of methamphetamine among the drugs found in Andy's body at the time of his death.
The initial press releases attributed Irons' death to Dengue fever; however, the postmortem report completed by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office was negative for Dengue and other flaviviruses. It's unknown why suspicions that Dengue fever played a role in Irons' death spread.
Irons' death prompted a two-day postponement of a World Championship Tour event in Puerto Rico, with competitors holding a “paddle out” memorial service for Irons.
Irons had withdrawn from the tournament due to illness and was on his way back to Hawaii during a layover in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
He apparently stopped in Miami after departing Puerto Rico, and according to early reports, he was placed on a saline drip. He was said to be vomiting on the Hawaii-bound jet before being evacuated just before takeoff.
In the days after his death, it was alleged that a very unwell Irons tried to board his connecting aircraft to Honolulu at 11:30 a.m. in Dallas but was turned away at an American Airlines gate—an allegation the company rejects.