The 13-year-old surfing champion who died in a shark attack reportedly left a note for his mother saying that he would not go in the water unless there were spotters watching the ocean for the predators.
"Don't worry, Mom,” Elio Canestri wrote. “I'm going surfing. If there's no security, I won't surf."
After revealing the note, Canestri’s grieving father Giovanni told French broadcaster RTL that his son had “always been very careful” in the waters off the coast of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion where they live. Elio was with six other people on Sunday when he was fatally attacked.
"He was someone who always listened to his parents,” Giovanni Canestri told RTL. “He analyzed danger intelligently, he was a competitor.”
All water-based activities are banned on the island unless spotters are in place due to 16 shark attacks — seven of them fatal — over the past four years.
"Titi was devoured by his passion,” his father added, using the family nickname for the boy. “Fate decided one day to take him away and he is gone."
The president of the French Surfing Federation said it was “impossible to blame the young boy” for what occurred.
“Despite the ban in place and the instructions of his coach, how could one forbid a young boy of 13 from pursuing his passion when one lives on an island surrounded by the ocean and these magnificent waves,” said Jean Luc Arassus, who flew out to the island late Monday.
Although safety nets to prevent shark attacks have now been placed in waters near where Elio was attacked, Arassus called for solutions to be found so that the pastime can continue.
"Surfing is part of the DNA of Reunion [and] is an uncontrollable passion,” he said. “You cannot ban it."
Friends posted a video tribute to Elio on YouTube and a Facebook page dedicated to his memory had also received almost 8,000 likes by early Tuesday.