The KwaZulu-Natal surfing fraternity is mourning the shock death of rising star Llewellyn Engelbrecht on Monday.
He was 11.
The talented and enthusiastic grom made waves in Scottburgh and represented Ugu Surfriders at the 2019 Sea Harvest South African Junior Surfing Championships.
Llewellyn was one of the team’s standout performers in the national tournament held at Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay, making the semi-finals and ultimately finishing fifth in the Under-12 boys division.
The Engelbrechts moved to the Eastern Cape at the beginning of this year, where Llewellyn joined Buffalo City Surfriders.
A family representative said in a statement, “I’m sure we all know the amazing young boy, surfer, friend, brother and son Llewellyn Engelbrecht is. His constant energy and innocent mischievousness makes him unique.
“On Monday morning, Llewellyn’s family busied themselves with a full house, electricians, water repairs and other workers wandering around the house. Around 9:30am, Llewellyn left the commotion to go up the stairs in the house.
“Llewellyn Engelbrecht suffered a terrible accident while on the stairs at his home on that same Monday. It appears from the medical report that he broke his neck, severing his spinal cord, leading to his instant passing.
“Upon not hearing from Llewellyn for some time, the parents began looking for him. Mom Rachel found him around 10am Monday morning. They immediately tried to revive him to no avail. The people working at the house at that time, including a neighbour, tried to do CPR but it was unsuccessful.
“They rushed him to the nearest medical facility; they too, were unsuccessful. Initial observation by the medical examiner suggested it was death by asphyxiation caused by severing of the spinal cord. An autopsy was carried out on Wednesday.
“Obviously, the family are in distress and pain right now. We ask that you would respect their privacy as they go about make arrangements in trying Covid-19 times.
“We will honour Llewellyn by remembering his beautiful, innocent character, his struggles to perfect the shaka, his unique voice, and his unsurpassed courage and determination.
“His proudest moment was being selected for SA Champs in Jbay. Those who attended SA Champs will remember the 11-year-old long, blonde hair boy waving the Ugu flag. Full of laughter, full of fun, always a smile for everyone.”
Ugu Surfriders expressed their shock at the news of Llewellyn’s passing and hailed him as a special surfer and young boy.
“Our thoughts are with the family of Llewellyn Engelbrecht. Our deepest condolences to all who knew this special little man.
“He was such a fun little guy. He fit into our junior team so well and easily. SA Champs was so much fun with him there.
“He was adamant that he was going to perfect his shaka and when he did, we all cheered with him.
“He was an amazing little surfer who was not scared of big waves and who had a big and bright future ahead of him.
“We are truly devastated and our hearts go out to his mom Rachel, his dad Stephen and his siblings,” Ugu Surfriders said in a statement.
Paying tribute to Llewellyn, Ugu Surfriders chairman Wade Botha said, “If I think back to the 2019 SA Junior Champs, and the Ugu Surfriders junior team, I can still see the team with their long, blonde-haired ‘mascot’, one of those team members that instantly creep into your heart with their infectious ways and good vibes.
“Llewellyn went on to produce one of the best results of the team, despite being a fair bit younger than his competitors, the talent was there and his heart was set on big things, surfing every heat with so much determination.
“If I think back to our trials, he displayed such heart in every heat he surfed. In true Ugu style, our trials are never held in easy conditions, but this never seemed to bother Llewellyn, never one to settle with riding the foamies near the safety of the shore, he would make his way to the outside in well overhead surf or spend the whole heat trying, he was just stoked to be competing.
“Due to his family relocating he had decided to move districts for the 2020 season, despite being sad to see such an amazing talent move provinces, we were excited to see what he would achieve, because once a South Coast kid always a South Coast kid, no matter where you move.
“It’s hard to find words with any meaning right now to share with his family and nothing anyone can say that will ease the pain or fill the void, but Stephen, Rachel and family know that you are in our thoughts and prayers and that’s the special thing about this surfing world, we are all connected through our common love of wave riding and I’m sure it has made your hearts smile to see all the love and tributes pouring in on social media from far and wide which speaks volumes to the young man that he was.
“It truly is amazing to see the reach his personality had and how many lives he touched, how many hearts he climbed into and how many he inspired with his tenacity. Llewelyn touched more lives in his 11 short years than some people do in an entire life time.
“Although it was not the longest time, it was a privilege to meet you, judge your performances and have a small part in your surfing journey that was no doubt set to be very bright.
“Rest in peace little guy, taken far too soon. ’He will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 21:4). Shred those perfect walls up there!”