Shad Gaspard dead: WWE star's body washes up on LA beach days after he was swept away while swimming with son
Gaspard was among a group of swimmers who were caught in a rip current and has not been seen since
A body that washed up on an LA beach has been identified as that of former WWE star Shad Gaspard who was swept out to sea after getting caught in a rip current over the weekend.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported Gaspard, 39, and his son, 10, had been among a group of swimmers who got caught in a strong rip current around 4 pm on Sunday, May 17, at the Marina Del Rey Beach.
While Gaspard's son was rescued by lifeguards at the scene, the wrestler was pulled away after another big wave crashed down on the swimmers and has not been seen since.
Video taken at the beach early on May 20 showed authorities from the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department surrounding a lifeless body. While it has not yet been identified, the Los Angeles County coroner and a woman resembling Gaspard's wife, Siliana, were also seen leaving the location. You can watch the video here.
In a press conference, Los Angeles Police Department Lt Titus Tyler said the body had washed ashore about halfway between the Venice Beach pier and the lifeguard headquarters, and did not show any initial signs of foul play.
NBC Los Angeles reporter Daniella Guzman tweeted that investigators had determined that the body matched the description of the missing father. The news was confirmed by an official with the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division.
Watch the video confirming the description here.
"The individual that was seen here on the beach this morning was an African-American male, approximately 6'6'', over 240 pounds. So, it matched the description of the swimmer that had gone missing during the rescue efforts that we conducted on Sunday afternoon."
The US Coast Guard had suspended its search for Gaspard on May 19 but said at least one boat was still looking for the 39-year-old, while the LAPD previously said it was still actively searching for the wrestler and even asked for the public's help.
A witness who saw the tragic incident unfold revealed that when the lifeguards started their rescue operation, Gaspard directed them to help out his son first.
"We had one of our lifeguards go out to make a double rescue of a father and a son," Kenichi Haskett, Los Angeles County Fire Dept Lifeguard Division told the Daily Mail. "The father, unfortunately, got pushed down by a wave as they were getting pulled out of the current. The lifeguard rescued and grabbed the boy, the son, and tried to grab the father as well."
"He ended up getting pushed down by a wave and we couldn't find him and we immediately started with our rescue boats, called in additional lifeguards to search that location of his dad," he added.
Siliana had released a statement on the missing star on May 19 and thanked authorities involved in the rescue as well as fans for their unwavering support during this difficult time.
"We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad," she said.
"Shad is a fighter, a warrior, and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return. As a family, we thank you all for your concern and well wishes. Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad."