With the death of local resident and surfer, Kirk Passmore, students and community members mourned and celebrated a man who loved living.
Passmore was with friends on the Haleiwa side of Waimea Bay on Nov. 13, a location known as Alligator Rock, when he disappeared while surfing. Witnesses said he was hit by two big waves with faces more than 40-feet high. His surfboard was found broken in two with its leash pulled out at Chun’s Reef, a surfing spot closer to Haleiwa.
Jamie Sterling, a professional surfer and friend of Passmore, who was out at the time of the incident, said in an interview with stabmag.com, “He was seen swimming down with his feet up above the surface, and we think he broke his ear drum because what happens when you break your ear drum is you have complete loss of balance and you have vertigo.”
Taylor Moyes, the girlfriend of Passmore and a senior studying English from Arizona, kept friends and family updated throughout the weekend through Facebook updates.
The Coast Guard searched for Passmore by helicopter and boat. The Honolulu Fire Department searched with a helicopter with two shoreline companies and a rescue crew. Two watercraft crews from Honolulu Ocean Safety also searched. The Coast Guard suspended it search for Passmore on Friday, Nov. 15. Passmore was not wearing a life vest while surfing the big waves.
The Passmore family said in a statement released Nov. 14, “Kirk was born February 11, 1981 in Orem, Utah.” The statement continued, “He started coming to Hawaii when he was 14 and was an experienced and expert surfer. He was not new to big wave surfing, having surfed most of the well-known big wave locations, including Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, Pipeline, and outer reefs on the North Shores of Hawaii. He was a familiar face at Todos Santos off Baja California. He also surfed Maverick’s in Northern California and Puerto Escondido in Mainland Mexico. He spent three years in the southern coast of France. He moved to the North Shore of Hawaii full-time in the spring of 2012.”
Passmore is survived by his mother, father and stepmother, and his three siblings. His brother Matthew Passmore, a former BYUH student, is serving an LDS mission in New York, New York.
One of Passmore’s friends and roommates, Chris Jones, a junior in psychology from California, said, “We got to share a lot of good times and I’ll always remember how he loved living. I’m glad he went out doing what he loved.”
Comments flooded Surfline.com on the day of Passmore’s disappearance. One comment by a person with the username Ryan described an experience he had with Passmore. He said, “When I heard you [Passmore] went missing today, I thought of a few weeks ago at Pipe when we were both going for a perfect set wave and you called me into it even though it was yours. You let me have it and I scored big time. This is a perfect example of the kind of man and friend you are. More important than being a good surfer, you’re a great man.”
Another person with the username, Caroljean, commented, “Kirk once showed us a video of him surfing and why he felt so close to God while on his board. That is where he would pray and enjoy life’s moments. I love and will miss him, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have had him in my life, seen that amazing smile and listen to him talk about faith. Enjoy the Heavenly Surf.”
Friends said Passmore always had a smile on his face and truly did love life.
According to Moyes’ Facebook page, Passmore’s memorial service will be held in Carlsbad, Calif., on Nov. 23 at noon with a paddleout tentatively scheduled at 3:30 p.m.
A paddleout in Hawaii for Passmore will likely happen after Thanksgiving, Moyes said.