Tragedy Strikes as Fitness Instructor Eiffel Gilyana, 46, Vanishes in Kayaking Mishap off Florida Coast –
Eiffel Gilyana, a 46-year-old fitness instructor and devoted father of three, has been reported missing after his kayak overturned in the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida coast.
Gilyana, who served in the U.S. military in Iraq, was kayaking with the Jax Fire Dragons boat team close to the St. Augustine Inlet at around 10 am on December 23 when he disappeared under challenging sea conditions.
Search Efforts and Heartbreaking Discovery:
Following a 48-hour search led by the U.S. Coast Guard, only Gilyana’s overturned kayak was recovered, having been split in two. Despite continuous efforts throughout Christmas Eve, the search yielded no sign of Gilyana.
The Coast Guard, along with additional crews and partner agencies, intensified the search on Sunday morning. Tragically, Gilyana’s remains were found around 7 miles from the last sighting at lunchtime on Tuesday, December 26.
A statement from Jacksonville’s Jewish Community confirmed the devastating news, stating that law enforcement had officially verified the retrieved body as that of Eiffel Gilyana. The Coast Guard’s non-stop search for 48 hours concluded on Christmas Day.
Personal Background and Immigrant Journey:
Originally from Erbil, Iraq, Gilyana served as a translator in the U.S. military from 2003 to 2009, immigrating to Jacksonville to escape threats from ISIS.
In Jacksonville, he became a wellness instructor, known for his remarkable feats of endurance. Recently, he completed a 150-mile kayak journey from Miami to Key West.
Gilyana’s family has launched a GoFundMe page to support his wife and three children during this challenging time.
Condolences and Community Impact:
The boating team and the Coast Guard posted messages of condolence. Cmdr. Nick Barrow, search and rescue coordinator, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, expressed heartfelt condolences and thanked all contributing partners for their unified efforts.
Gilyana, a former competitive bodybuilder, served as the health coordinator for the local Jewish Community Alliance, where he was celebrated for his dedication and fitness background.
He also acted as a health and wellness adviser for Task Force Hydro 1, a nonprofit organization working with veterans and emergency workers.
JCA CEO Adam Chaskin conveyed sympathies during this difficult time, holding Gilyana’s family, friends, teammates, clients, and the JCA community close in prayer.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn