UPDATED: 9:15 a.m. ET —
Officials have confirmed that the lifeless body found overnight near a beach in Southern California was pro wrestler Shad Gaspard, who disappeared in the water over the weekend. His body was found early Wednesday morning after it washed up on Venice Beach, lifeguards said.
Gaspard, a former star with the WWE, went missing on Sunday after being caught in a strong rip current with his 10-year-old son. Lifeguards responded but Garspard insisted they save his son first. Lifeguards said when they returned, “a wave had crashed over Mr. Shad Gaspard and he was swept out to sea.”
Gaspard’s family was shown arriving to the location where the 39-year-old’s body was found.
A rescue mission turned recovery efforts for a missing professional wrestler believed to have been swept out to sea ended after a body was found Wednesday morning off the coast of a beach in southern California. Though not immediately identified, the lifeless body was found more than 12 hours after the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for Shad Gaspard, a former star with the WWE and actor who went missing on Sunday at a beach in Marina del Rey.
The Los Angeles Fire Department issued a press release early Wednesday morning to say in part that it was “summoned by LAPD unit/s on scene near Lifeguard Tower 26 at Venice Beach, to confirm one adult male found lifeless to be dead.” There was no immediate confirmation that the body recovered was Gaspard.
The search was called off on Tuesday afternoon.
Gaspard, 39, was part of a group swimming at the recently reopened beach following coronavirus lockdown when they apparently got caught in a rip current about 50 yards from shore. Lifeguards noticed them in distress and came to save them, but Gaspard asked them to save his 10-year-old son first. When they came back for him, the Los Angeles Police Department said that “a wave had crashed over Mr. Shad Gaspard and he was swept out to sea,” leaving him nowhere to be found.
Gaspard’s son, Aryeh, survived.
The search was called off around 12 noon local time on Tuesday.
Gaspard’s apparent final act of prioritizing the life of his son was reportedly very on-brand for the professional wrestler. A writer for ESPN described Gaspard as being extremely selfless when it came to them.
Gaspard’s wife issued a statement on Monday expressing the family was still “hoping and praying for his safe return.”
Gaspard stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed about 270 pounds with the sculpted body of a hulk that might prompt some to believe he should have been able to withstand the force of a wave no matter how strong it was. However, the lifeguard who saved Gaspard’s son suggested “the gentlemen’s size and the conditions in the water” proved to be an unfortunate combination.
The beach had been closed because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines but had only opened up a week ago on May 13.
Aside from being known as a professional wrestler who went by his actual full name, rising to fame as one half of the WWE’s tag team called Cryme Tyme, Gaspard was also a fledgling actor and writer. He left the WWE in 2010 and went on to appear in Hollywood productions such as “Think Like a Man Too” and “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time.” Gaspard, along with fellow former WWE wrestler Marc Copani, was also behind the graphic novel called “Assassin and Son,” which was released in 2011.