Watch from the skies: NJ surfers’ touching tribute to their own Luke Mitchell
Video courtesy of Mike Bissel | Shore Point Photography
When Mike Bissel, an enthusiast photographer and videographer, watches the overhead video he shot of a remembrance for surfer Luke James Mitchell of Ocean Grove, he's taken aback.
From Bissel's drone, he could see the "paddle out" — a memorial for a fallen surfer, in which dozens of fellow surfers come together on the water.
"Every time I watch, when it gets to them throwing the roses, and backpaddling, I get goosebumps," he said. "It's just nice to see that we as a people, neighbors, friends, can still get together and not worry about what's going on in the world today, but care for one another."
Bissel didn't know Mitchell — he knew of him, because a friend's son worked with him at Eastern Lines Surf Shop in Belmar. But he was touched by the memorial, and wanted those taking part to be able to see what it looked like.
And it looks stunning. The shape the surfboards make around a small rowboat changes often. At one point, it looks a lot like a heart.
Mitchell, 30, of Ocean Grove, died Nov. 17 surrounded by his family after a battle with valvular heart disease, his obituary states. He'd been completing his internship as an assistant golf professional at Hanover Country Club in New Hampshire and was well on his way to becoming a PGA Teaching Professional, it said.
But the multi-sport athlete also had a passion for surfing — the obituary calls it one of his "two true loves"
"He was always in search of that perfect long right ride. He never missed a moment to share and enjoy surfing experiences with family, friends, and strangers," the obituary states.
He'd been involved with Eastern Lines for a decade as a "star salesperson, a member of their competitive surf team, and an extremely dedicated surf instructor (family and friends will remember his knack for tenacious teaching)," the obituary states.
He surfed in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and San Diego, it states.
"The world will miss his creative fun, witty attitude, infectious smile and laughter. Luke shared this joy with everyone," the obituary states.
Bissel said he's glad he captured a beautiful moment for the participants.
"It was absolutely chilling to see what it looked like from the air," he said. "They could get the feeling and understand the paddle out, and what it was all about."