HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This was Andy Irons' comeback year. After taking a break from competition, the 32 year old, three-time world champ was back on tour, but missed his heat Monday at the Rip Curl Pro in Puerto Rico.
His family says he had been suffering from Dengue Fever.
Irons hopped a flight home, but after a one night layover at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, he never woke up.
The Star-Advertiser reports that authorities are investigating the possibility Irons overdosed on methadone, a powerful pain reliever he might have taken to cope with the illness.
Regardless, the loss is devastating to his many friends and fans, including shaper Eric Arakawa who was preparing Irons' new boards for the winter season.
"It's too early. This bombshell fell only this morning. I'm in shock. I just shut everything down. I just came home from work. Today was supposed to be my big push before the tour got into town. Nothing seems very important right now. Nothing seems very pressing," Arakawa said.
"The loss is big to the surfing community as well as his family. You know, I couldn't imagine losing a brother or sister so young and with so much talent with so much of a future ahead of him," champion longboarder and longtime friend Duane Desoto said.
"I think in the contemporary age that Andy Irons is the best competitive surfer that Hawaii has produced, since the start of the pro tour back in the mid seventies," Triple Crown Director Randy Rarick said.
Irons will always be remembered for his many contest victories, his legendary clashes with Kelly Slater and the stardom that made him a global salesman for his sponsors.
But Irons was also a family man, expecting his first child with wife Lindy, next month.
He'll be dearly missed at his hometown break at Pinetrees, in Hanalei where he and his brother Bruce, put on the annual keiki surf contest.
Irons' Facebook page is filled with condolences from around the world.
As fans mourn for the young man, they thought they 'd be cheering on for years to come.
"We saw moments in surfing that will never be seen again. And surfing got taken to a new level every time he took to the waters at Pipe. It's just going to be a very deep dark hole around here for a while," Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Spokesperson Jodi Wilmott said.
Please feel free to click on the graphic below to leave your thoughts and condolences to the Irons Family.