Andy Irons Death Believed to be Dengue Fever - Awaiting Autopsy

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Update: June 9, 2011 The autopsy results were released today. AI died a natural death of sudden cardiac arrest. Tests indicate that he did not have dengue fever at the time of his death. He was exhibiting symptoms of dengue in Puerto Rico and this was the first event the Andy pulled out of in his entire career. There were "therapeutic" levels of Xanax and methadone in his bloodstream. Also, in his bloodstream was benzoylecgonine. This indicates that AI likely consumed cocaine approximately 30 hours prior to his death. The coroner listed these drugs as a secondary cause of his death, "acute mixed drug ingestion".

December 27th, 2010. Surfing legend Andy Irons died on November 2, 2010. There have been rumors and leaks surrounding the cause of Andy Irons death. Regardless of the outcome of the autopsy, know this, Andy Irons died because he had Dengue Fever. When you have it you are experiencing incredible pain throughout your body and you run a fever so high that you are not thinking clearly. I am speaking from personal experience. In 2008 I contracted Dengue Fever in Nicaragua and it was the most intense and painful disease I have ever endured.

If Andy Irons died because of a complication from taking a legal or illegal drug that reacted with dengue it is unfair to dismiss it is as simply another famous person dying of an overdose. It makes me sick how people were saying to me the day after he died, “Oh, he overdosed on methadone”. He had Dengue for crying out loud and was trying to get back to Hawaii to be with his family. He possibly took something beyond the only recommended medicine which is acetaminophen. The bottom line is that if he took a drug because of the pain and fever, he took it because of having dengue.

In Loving Memory of Andy Irons from Billabong on Vimeo.

Yes he should have stayed in Puerto Rico and rested there where he would have medical care from the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) medical team until the dengue fever ran its course. But as his family said in a November 18th statement “The family would also like to thank the ASP Medical Team for their role at the ASP-sanctioned event at Puerto Rico and want to convey their appreciation to the ASP-approved Rip Curl Pro Search Doctors who treated Andy there. They were professional and did everything they could to take care of Andy’s health, says Danielle, on behalf of the family. “I know how stubborn Andy can be, and once he makes up his mind there’s no changing it. He was set on coming home.”

On December 23rd his wife, Lyndie, asked a Texas court to delay releasing a report on her husband's cause of death out of fear that the media will pounce on the coroner's findings and damage the late champion surfer's brand. In the complaint, Lyndie states, “Based upon 'leaks' that have already occurred within the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office and the press reaction to those leaks, the branding of Andy Irons' company will be immediately, irreparably and severely tarnished if the official autopsy report is released at this time, when the coverage of this event by the press is at a frenzy,"

From this statement it is fair of course to assume that there will be news of some form of drug being found in his body. Sadly, Lyndie is correct in the probable public reaction to the news. However, I believe in the long run people in the surfing community will respect the impact AI had on the surfing world and his name and his brand will live on.

I am sure Stacy Peralta (the director of the big wave surf documentary Riding Giants and skateboarding's Lords of Dogtown) has already been told a hundred times by now that this should be his next project. The life story of Andy Irons would make an amazing film and it would be a film that surfers and non-surfers would find captivating. Can there be anybody out there better at capturing the life and spirit of a surfer than Stacy Peralta? This would cement AI's legacy in the surfing world.

If there is ever going to be a film done about the life of Andy Irons, man I hope Stacy Peralta does it. There is a documentary by Jack McCoy called Blue Horizon that was released in 2004. The documentary gives you a good glimpse of the rivalry between AI and Kelly Slater as it follows them around, but it isn't a biography on the life of AI.

I think Stacy Peralta is the one filmmaker out there who could accurately portray who Andy Irons was and capture what made him so special. Irons wasn't known for holding back, he put himself out there and that was just one of many things that set him apart from his contemporaries on the ASP tour. In this world of carefully worded sound bites, he just spoke his mind. If it pissed you off, too bad.

Whatever that autopsy says in 2011, know this, Andy Irons died because he had dengue fever and he was trying to get home to his family. It would have been easier for him to have stayed put and rested in Puerto Rico until he was better. But that was not his way, he ran on instinct and his instinct told him to get back home to family Hawaii.

Authors note: Perhaps it was the fact that Andy died while sick with dengue and my own experience with the disease two years earlier that I found myself so moved by his death. I never knew him personally.

When running high temperatures I freaked out a couple of times. One time I was in such pain, I felt like my head was going to explode and I hurt all over. I was sure if I didn't get out of bed right then I would die. My wife fortunately caught up with me on the sidewalk and argued with me until she was able to convince me to get back into bed.

If you are reading this and judging Irons, I've got to say that no other illness affected my mind as much as when I had dengue. The fevers get very high, mine ran up to 104 and the acetaminophen felt like it did nothing to give me relief. The pain behind the eyes is so intense and your joints hurt so much. If someone I knew told me they could give me something else that wouldn't react with dengue I probably would have taken it.

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