ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman who said she trained with the man who died while surfing in Nicaragua, and is speaking to News4Jax.
A makeshift memorial has been placed outside the business where Devan Kennedy worked in Atlantic Beach. Kennedy had been volunteering with Surf Tours Nicaragua, teaching pre-surf and post-surf programs.
On Thursday he was found face down in the surf at Punta Miramar, unresponsive. People at the scene attempted to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.
Kayla Durden, who took lessons from Kennedy, called his methods inspirational.
"It meant a lot to have someone who really took the time to make sure I was succeeding and pushing me passed what I thought I could (do)," Durden said. "He just put off a contagious energy ... and really made me believe in myself."
"Him as a person as well as a trainer has really made me view surfing differently and even success differently. He was a very positive person to have around and a really good one to have on your side."
Durden said she and many people in the community viewed Kennedy as one-of-a-kind, and said he will truly be missed.