Jackson James Rice Has Died Aged 18

Jackson James Rice, also known as JJ Rice, has tragically died at 18 years old.

Rice was due to compete at the Paris Olympics for the new kite-foiling event.

Kite foil racing is described as ‘sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding into one extreme sport,’ as per ANOC.

Rice was set to make history by becoming the first caucasian athlete to represent Tonga at the Games after finishing eighth at a Sail Sydney event.

Sadly, a freak accident has led to the 18-year-old’s passing.

Olympian Jackson James Rice Has Died Aged 18

Tributes are pouring in for the sportsman, with one person writing: “Rest in peace and condolences to the family.”

A second says: “So very tragic for a young man with what would have been a spectacular life before him.”

“So sad, his whole life ahead of him,” another pens.

Somebody else shares: “Thoughts are with your family at this sad time, amen and God bless.”

While a heartbroken friend comments: “I can’t begin to put into words what I’m feeling right now. I still cannot believe it, when I woke up to this news I thought you were playing around.

“You’re the most amazing friend anyone could ask for and anyone who has spent time with you would agree.”

Rice was born in the U.S. to British-born parents. He grew up in Ha’apai – a central part of Tonga – where his parents operate a tourist lodge.

The sportsman, who considered himself Tongan, had trained and competed in Europe before returning to Ha’apai.

Rice’s father, Darren, confirmed the tragic news of the 18-year-old’s passing.

He told the Matangi Tonga newspaper that Rice had been free-diving from a boat on Saturday when he died from a suspected shallow water blackout.

A shallow water blackout, or apnea blackout, is a ‘loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive in shallow water,’ as per the National Library of Medicine.

Typically, it’s caused by hyperventilating before a dive, as this lowers the carbon dioxide (CO2) level and delays the diver’s urge to breathe.

Rice’s body was found on the seafloor underneath the boat by other divers. Attempts to resuscitate the 18-year-old failed.

Rice’s sister, Lily, paid tribute to her talented brother on Facebook by penning: “I was blessed with the most amazing brother in the whole world and it pains me to say that he’s passed away…

“He was an amazing kite foiler and he would have made it to the Olympics and come out with a big shiny medal… he made so many amazing friends all over the world.”

Rice’s father also remembered how the teenager risked his life to save many when he was 15.

One occasion involved a ferryboat carrying 18 capsizing. Another involved the teen swimming out to rescue two girls swept off a sandbar.

Rice’s funeral will be confirmed at a later date.