The search for former WWE star Shad Gaspard has reportedly been scaled back after he was swept out to sea in Southern California on Sunday.
Gaspard's 10-year-old son Aryeh was rescued and several other swimmers made it out of the water safely after they were caught in a rip current at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
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“When last seen by the lifeguard, a wave had crashed over Mr. Shad Gaspard and he was swept out to sea,” Los Angeles police said in a statement on Monday.
Gaspard, 39, was about 50 metres from shore when he was last spotted, police said.
He is said to have told lifeguards to rescue his son first.
The US Coast Guard said on Tuesday they are no longer assisting in recovery efforts and the LAPD is leading investigations.
His wife, Siliana Gaspard, issued a statement on Tuesday thanking authorities and fans.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who rescued Aryeh and to the lifeguards, coast guard, divers, fire and police departments for their continued efforts to help find our beloved Shad,” the statement said.
The statement added: “Shad is a fighter, a warrior and a magical soul. We are hoping and praying for his safe return.
“As a family we thank you all for your concern and well wishes.
“Please continue to keep sending your positivity and prayers to our beloved Shad.”
Wrestling world praying for Shad and family
Gaspard gained prominence in the WWE as one half of the tag-team group Cryme Time, along with his partner JTG.
After retiring from the WWE in 2010, Gaspard has had small roles on TV and in movies, including the 2015 Kevin Hart comedy “Get Hard.”
The wrestling world has been taking to social media praying for a miracle.
“[Shad's] family appreciates all the love, support, and concern through this horrible ordeal,” fellow wrestlers Kofi Kingston and Montel Vontavious Porter both tweeted.
JTG posted a screenshot of a message chain between himself and Gaspard back in January.
“If ever I die tomorrow just know I love you as a brother and friend for ever even past this life,” Gaspard wrote, to which JTG replied: “Love you too brotha.”
Shad Gaspard had a HUGE heart. He was like an annoying little brother at times. We often gave eachother a hard time, but always with love! He always had a big smile on his face and was ready to share a laugh! I have… https://t.co/YC1VaiEAoi
— MVP (@The305MVP) May 18, 2020
. @Shadbeast ‘s family appreciates all the love, support, and concern through this horrible ordeal. At this time they are not ready to make any public or official statements to any media outlet And ask all to respect their wishes.
— 🎅🏿 KOF’ KRINGLE 🎅🏿 (@TrueKofi) May 19, 2020
This is just terrible news about Shad Gaspard being missing. I am thinking and praying for Shad, his family, and all those who love him
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) May 18, 2020
If Shad Gaspard's final act on this earth was making sure his child was safe, he left this world a father and a hero. Here's hoping this isn't the end of his story pic.twitter.com/V3XUrmMdwe
— Dan_Stu (@stu_dan) May 18, 2020
I just read the awful news about Shad Gaspard. I can’t imagine what his family is going through. My thoughts go out to them.
— Kevin (@FightOwensFight) May 18, 2020
Sending prayers to Shad & his family 🙏💕
— Billie Kay (@BillieKayWWE) May 18, 2020
Shad risked his life for his son. Shad is a hero 🖤😓🙏🏻 https://t.co/Mrwjhrw0fJ
— Brandon Collymore (@itsbrandonde) May 19, 2020
This man, former WWE superstar Shad Gaspar, told lifeguards to save his son, rather than himself from a rip current. The coast guard called off the search today. May your son carry on your legacy. pic.twitter.com/takhcSomEt
— JHB1982 (@JHB19821) May 19, 2020
with Associated Press