“I can’t wait to meet the King!”

Tamayo Perry died tragically on Sunday 23 June after being attacked by a shark off the island of Oahu in Hawaii. He was 49 years old. Tamayo was a Hawaii native and had been a lifeguard with Honolulu Ocean Safety since 2016, where surfers sometimes need saving when they get in trouble with the 20-foot waves. He knew the area where he died like the back of his hand. One friend said, “There was nothing out of the ordinary that would indicate that something bad would happen to him. It was a regular day.” Tamayo’s death at the hands of a shark is the ninth time that’s happened in Hawaii.

Tamayo was a very skilful surfer with an infectious personality and had appeared in films including the fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Tamayo’s wife, Emilia, said she got the news he had died while she was in the car and had to “just go on autopilot” to get home, as tears were flowing, and she was praying it couldn’t be true. “When I got home, it was real,” she said. “But I also knew in my heart that he was really happy because he had made it to heaven.”

In an interview on “Good Morning America” Emilia said, “The world knew Tamayo as a surfer and an actor, but to those who knew him best, he was a man of deep personal faith in Jesus Christ … now taken too soon, I feel so upset and devastated.” Emilia’s faith in Jesus is holding her together at this sad time. She said her husband’s legacy is clear, “He showed people how to be a better human, to love everybody when you have them, because you never know when they’re going to be taken away.” Before he died, Tamayo texted his family saying, “I can’t wait to meet the King. I’m excited, not scared. We’ve got to pray and forgive and love.” One of the last books he read was the Bible.

Tamayo was a man whose faith in Jesus meant everything to him. Emilia said, “The community is ‘broken-hearted’ but there’s also this weird calmness that he’s in a really beautiful place. Tamayo was a knight forged in the fires of the North Shore in the 90’s, when he came to faith in Christ, the rock upon whom he stood. Tamayo truly followed in the footsteps of Jesus, and never took his eyes off the path. Tragic though his passing may be, he left this world doing what he loved where he loved to do it. We find strength in knowing he is in heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ and his friends that have gone before him.”

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