By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(July 28, 2022) Worcester County’s coastal community showed up big on Saturday for an Ocean Pines family whose lives were upended by the death of their 14-year-old son and brother in a hit-and-run on July 11.
Around 250 surfers participated in a “paddle out” organized by the Ocean City Surf Club with another 400 or so in attendance on the beach at 36th Street.
The occasion included a memorial on the beach before the hundreds of surfers paddled out beyond the waves to send off Gavin Knupp, who had a passion for surfing according to those who knew him.
There, hundreds of yards off the shore, the surfers held their own ceremony for Knupp, remembering him for the person he was, before sending a makeshift wreath off and into the ocean currents.
The Knupp family released a statement via their attorney on how much the sendoff meant to them.
“Saturday’s Celebration of Life for Gavin was overwhelming for all of us,” the family stated. “While our grief remains, the outpouring of support from Gavin’s friends and family, local restaurants and businesses and the community at large has continued to provide us with the strength we need to deal with this unspeakable tragedy.”
“We also want to say a special thank you to the Ocean City Surf Club for arranging the celebration of life and surfer’s paddle out for Gavin, setting his spirit free. And thank you as well to all the surfers who participated.”
Club President Tommy Vach called the turnout “tremendous.”
“The love and support from the community were overwhelming,” he said. “We knew it would be large but we (didn’t expect it to be that large). It went very well.”
Vach said the celebration on the beach was a “very emotional ceremony” with many friends and loved ones there to recount stories from the rising high school freshman’s life. The event included prayer, reflection and music. Vach added that multiple restaurants and families brought food to share with everyone.
“We’re just glad to have been a part of it, bringing this community together,” Vach said. “It was one of our finer moments.”
“We’re thankful to have the community we do because they stepped up to make this sendoff special. The family will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
While the community is abuzz with theories and rumors as to what happened, the events of July 11 still have few confirmed answers.
What’s known right now is that Knupp was struck on a stretch of Grays Corner Road, about halfway between intersections with Race Track Road and Glen Riddle Lane, as he returned to a vehicle in which he was traveling.
Authorities have located and seized a black Mercedes in Worcester County that they suspect of being involved in the hit-and-run.
Social media is rife with rumors regarding who the culprit or culprits may be, but as of Wednesday, authorities have not confirmed anyone’s involvement.
In their statement, the Knupp family also extended their gratitude to those investigating the case.
“We also want again to thank our local law enforcement authorities for their untiring efforts to bring those responsible for Gavin’s death to justice,” the family stated.