Family, friends paddle out to remember local surfer

CARDIFF, Calif. - Family and friends of a local man who died while surfing in Del Mar gathered to remember him Friday.

With his blond hair and laid-back attitude, family members say Rob Leard was a gentle giant.

"He was just a fabulous young man, non-judgmental, just a sweetheart of a guy," said Leard's uncle, David Allen.

Leard's family says he was an avid surfer.

"The surfing was a huge part of Rob's life … a huge part of Rob's life, like almost every day," said Allen.

Leard was surfing last Saturday when he went under the water. Rescuers tried to revive him but could not.

On Friday, hundreds of leis were handed out as family and friends paddled out into the water in Cardiff for a floating memorial. They say Leard loved the beach and the water and that they wanted to remember him the way he lived.

"This is a fitting legacy to him … something that involved surfing and you know, paddling out … It's a very fitting tribute to Rob," said Allen.

The Medical Examiner's Office has not determined a cause of death, but Leard's family says drowning has been ruled out.

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