Extreme Sport Athletes Who Tragically Died Early

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Extreme Sports are often viewed as non-traditional, however, over the last few decades, extreme sports have earned their merits and acceptance by the general public. Sport competitions and T.V. Programs, like the X-Games and Winter X, have helped expand the popularity of these sports on a global level. Extreme sports are somewhat different from traditional sports because they are based on skill but are also judged from a more aesthetic and skilled perspective which makes it difficult for them to be traditionally judged. Extreme sports are known for their abilities to push the limits of human capability, physics, speed and gravity to the limits. Tragically, as partially expected, many athletes competing to push these sports beyond their limits get injured or pass away, in pursuit of what they loved.

Jeremy “Pitbull” Lusk
(November 26, 1984 – February 10,2009)
Freestyle Motocross Rider
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was an American freestyle motocross racer from San Diego, California. He was part of the riding group Metal Mulisha. He won gold and silver medals at the 2008 X Games and a bronze helmet in the 2008 Moto X World Championships. On February 9, 2009, Lusk crashed while attempting to land a “Heart Attack Indian Air Backflip” in the X Knights motocross competition in San Jose, Costa Rica, he under-rotated the flip, causing his front wheel to strike the landing. Lusk was ejected head-first and sustained catastrophic brain damage.

Jeff “OX” Kargola
(November 29, 1983 – April 29, 2011)
Freestyle Motocross Rider

was an American professional Freestyle Motocross (FMX) rider. He was a member of the Metal Mulisha FMX team. His career was highlighted by a silver medal in the Men’s Best Trick competition at the 2005 Winter X Games. He died on April 29, 2011, aged 27, after sustaining a head injury and internal bleeding on the second day of the Desert Assassins’ Rip to the Tip motocross event in Baja California, Mexico.

Andy Irons
(July 24, 1978 – November 2, 2010)
Professional Surfer
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Andy Irons was an American professional surfer. Irons learned to surf on the dangerous and shallow reefs of the North Shore in Kauai, Hawaii. Over the course of his professional career, he won three world titles (2002, 2003, 2004), three Quiksilver Pro France titles (2003, 2004, 2005), two Rip Curl Pro Search titles (2006 and 2007) and 20 elite tour victories including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times from 2002-2006. On September 3, 2010 he won the Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti. The Governor of Hawaii declared February 13 forever “Andy Irons Day”. He is the only surfer to have won a title at every venue on the ASP calendar. Irons died on November 2, 2010. He was found lying in bed on his back with the sheets pulled up to his chin, by two hotel staff after he had failed to respond to knock on the door and they went in to investigate. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office concludes that Irons died from a cardiac arrest due to a severe blockage of a main artery of the heart. The official autopsy report lists also a second cause of death as “acute mixed drug ingestion”, listing alprazolam, methadone, benzoylecgonine (a metabolite of cocaine) and traces of methamphetamine as the drugs found in Andy’s body at the time of his death.

Jay Moriarity
(June 16, 1978 – June 15, 2001)
Professional Surfer
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was a surfer from Santa Cruz, California. He was an accomplished surfer, waterman, and adventurer. As a surfer, he made his reputation surfing Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California. At age 16, he was made internationally famous when his wipeout at Mavericks was caught on film and made the cover of Surfer magazine. Although a successful competitor, Jay is remembered as a soul surfer, winning many sportsmanship awards throughout his career. Moriarity died a day before his 23rd birthday on June 15, 2001, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the island Lohifushi in the Maldives, drowning in an apparent diving accident.

Erik “Rubberneck” Roner
(November 2, 1976 – September 28, 2015)
Actor/Skydiver/Base Jumper/ Skier
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Erik Roner was a Pro extreme skier and base jumper. Roner was usually the first to attempt any stunt involving snow. On September 28, 2015, Erik Roner sustained fatal injuries while skydiving in Squaw Valley, CA. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Dean Potter
(April 14, 1972 – May 16, 2015)
Professional Base Jumper/High-line walker/Free Climber/Baseliner

Dean Potter was an American free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper, BASEliner, and highliner. He was noted for hard first ascents, free solo ascents, speed ascents, and enchainments in Yosemite National Park and Patagonia. On May 16, 2015, Potter and Graham Hunt were killed while attempting an illegal proximity wingsuit flight from Taft Point above Yosemite Valley. They had made this flight before, but it still required precision to make it through a small notch. Hunt hit a side wall. Potter had cleared the notch and then crashed. They both died on impact. Neither of their parachutes had deployed.

Shane Cross
(August 22, 1986 – March 7, 2007)
Professional Street Skater
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Shane Cross was an Australian street skateboarder from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Cross gained global prominence within the skateboarding community during the mid-2000s, before his death in a motorcycle crash when he was 20.

Kyle Bennett
(September 25, 1979 – October 14, 2012)
Professional BMX Rider

Kyle Bennett was an American professional Bicycle Motocross (BMX) racer and Dirt Jumper whose prime competitive years were from 1999 to 2012. He earned the moniker “Butter” for his smooth riding style. On May 10, 2008 he won an automatic spot on the first US BMX Olympic team, a sport that made its debut in the 2008 Summer Olympics. He made it to the finals and finished sixth of the UCI World Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark after winning USA Cycling’s year-long series of races as the highest ranking American and becoming the first member of the BMX Olympic team. In the early hours of October 14, 2012, Bennett’s 2006 Toyota Tundra pickup truck went off the road while traveling at high speed. The truck smashed through a culvert pipe, a wrought-iron gate, and several other objects before coming to rest upside down. Responding EMTs extracted Bennett from the vehicle, and later pronounced him dead at the scene. Officials said he was not wearing a seat belt. In an autopsy report obtained by The Courier of Conroe, the Montgomery County medical examiner found that Bennett had a blood alcohol content of 0.145 percent by volume. The legal standard in Texas is 0.08 percent.

Jim “Jumpin’ Jimmy” Mcneil
(1978 – 2011)
Freestyle Motocross Rider

Jim McNeil, 32, died during practice for an exhibition that had been scheduled to coincide with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The event was one stop on the 2011 Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com Worldwide Tour; McNeil had been a member of the Boost FMX team for the last nine years. According to a statement released by Boost Mobile, McNeil was practicing on The Midway at the Texas Motor Speedway when he crashed. He was taken by CareFlight to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mathias Dymarski
(1993 – November 13, 2015)
Professional BMX Rider

Dymarski gain prominence in the European circuit of BMX. Tragically, his life was cut short when he and his girlfriend went to the, now infamous, Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, to see the Eagles of Death Metal performance. On the night of November 13th, 2015, there was a terrorist attack on the theater which tragically 130 innocent people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured. Dymarski and his girlfriend Maurie Lausch perished in the attack at the early ages of 22 and 23, respectively.

Cloud Toda
(1980 – December 29, 2015)
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Cloud Toda was a Japanese professional FMX rider, sponsored by Suzuki. He gained notoriety after a tragic crash in 2008 which left him paralyzed from the waist down, however, he persevered through everything and continued to ride and compete. Toda continued to improve his skills and learned to preform the “whip” trick, despite only using his upper body strength. In December of 2015, while practicing to compete in the 2016 X-Games, Toda landed in a foam pit which combusted due to the heat from his Dirt Bike’s engine. Foam pit fires are common, however, the riders usually have the ability to climb out and escape – Toda, tragically was unable to.

Caleb Moore
(August 28, 1987 – January 31, 2013)
Professional Snowmobile racer/Snowmobile Freestyle rider/Quad Freestyle Motocross Rider
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Caleb Moore was an American professional snowmobile racer and a quad freestyle motocross rider and the first person to die as a result of injuries sustained during the X Games. During his X Games career, Moore claimed four medals. Caleb was injured on January 24, 2013, during the Snowmobile Freestyle part of Winter X Games XVII, which was held in Aspen, Colorado. He was attempting a backflip (a trick he had done several times before) when the skis on his snowmobile were snagged on the ground as he was about to land. As a result, Caleb was flipped over the handlebars and upon landing, was hit by the snowmobile.

Dave Mirra
(April 4, 1974 – February 4, 2016)
Professional BMX Rider/Rally Car Racer

Dave Mirra was an American BMX athlete, Subaru Rally Team USA driver and business owner. Mirra held the record for most X Games medals until being passed by Bob Burnquist in 2013, and has medaled in every X Games from when they started in 1995 up to 2009. Mirra is considered a legend in the BMX world and one of the best competitors of all time. He is known primarily as a vert ramp and park rider. He has ridden and has been sponsored by Haro Bikes since the mid ’90s before starting his own bike company. In 2011 Mirra made the transition from BMX rider to professional Rally car racer and was a member of the team which won the 2014 Race Across America Four-Person Male (Under 50) category. On February 4, 2016, Mirra died from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities say they responded to an apparent suicide and discovered his body in a truck. He had reportedly been visiting friends in the area, He was 41.