A spilled drink? Alcohol fueled egos? A petty argument? Whatever started the tragic series of events that led to the death of aspiring pro surfer Emery Kauanui it still doesn’t make sense. What is left in the wake of this tragedy is clear however: a young man’s life finished, four young men facing murder charges, and a Southern California surfing community searching for answers.
An aspiring pro surfer with a bright future is gone forever. Four men stare down the prospect of hard prison time. A community turned upside down.
It was just past midnight on a Thursday evening in late May when 24-year-old Emery Kauanui and another man were kicked out of the La Jolla Brewhouse for fighting. A few hours later four men showed up at Kauanui’s La Jolla residence and beat him senseless– and eventually to death. The four men have all been arrested and may be charged with murder, pending the outcome of a preliminary investigation by the San Diego Police Department.
According to an anonymous source, the four men, Seth Cravens 21; Eric House, 20; Orlando Osuna, 22; and Matthew Yanke, 20; are members of a makeshift La Jolla gang known as the Bird Rock Bandits. According to the source the gang beat up another man the week prior to the Emery Kauanui incident.
On Tuesday night, May 29th, at her home in La Jolla, Cindy Kauanui, the mother of Emery Kauanui, opened her home to many as a place to find understanding and to grieve…and to hope.
“We have a little bible study and we moved it over to Cindy’s house. People just started showing up. Lots of people cared for Emery and still do care for Cindy. She was praying for the four suspects,” said La Jolla surfer Peter King. “At least 200 people showed up and we sang songs of worship and tried to make sense of it all. This is so senseless. Life is so precious, whether you are 24 or 84…but this is a tough one. A totally stupid incident…just tragic.”
The senselessness of the incident is what makes this tragedy even harder to come to terms with. A sentiment echoed by all that are close to Emery. “Twenty-four is obviously just too young to go and I feel sorry for all the families involved,” said Todd Bartlett, owner of Liquid Foundation surf shop. “Apparently all the parties involved knew each other. I don’t know, it’s just senseless.”
“There are two thing I think Emery would say to us if he could be heard today,” explained good friend Mike Power. “One, let the little stuff go. Violence to this degree is ridiculous. And two, get your life right with God.”
Emery’s girlfriend of five years, Jennifer Grosso, intimated the same feelings. “Emery wanted people to understand God,” said Grosso. ” He was very realistic about God. Not fanatical. But he would always tell me about how he felt he was on this earth to tell about God. And now this senseless act.”
Senseless is the theme of this tragic loss of life. An aspiring pro surfer with a bright future is gone forever. Four men stare down the prospect of hard prison time. A community turned upside down.
“As I walked away from Cindy’s house last night I realized this is about to become a murder trial,” said King. “This isn’t over. This could turn into a big circus.”
A paddle out memorial will take place at WindanSea at 3pm on Saturday June 9th