Anton Walkes, a defenseman for Major League Soccer team Charlotte FC, has died at the age of 25 from injuries sustained in a boating accident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a statement.
The FWC said FWC officials attended a two-vessel casualty near the Miami Marine Stadium basin around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Walkes was unconscious and later received CPR after being transported ashore by the Miami Fire Rescue.
“Mr. Walkes was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. Our thoughts are with Mr. Walkes’ family, friends and fans at this difficult time,” the statement said. The FWC said that the investigation is still ongoing.
Charlotte FC also confirmed the “tragic and heartbreaking” death in a statement.
“Charlotte Football Club is pleased to confirm the tragic and heartbreaking news that defenseman Anton Walkes passed away early Thursday morning following an accident in South Florida,” Charlotte FC said in a statement.
Charlotte FC owner David Tepper described Walkes as a “great son, father, partner and teammate whose bright attitude touched everyone he met.
“He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton’s family at this heartbreaking time,” Tepper added. “The club offers its full support to all those affected during this time of mourning.”
Walkes came through the youth ranks of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur before playing for Portsmouth and Atlanta United.
Walkes moved to the United States to join Atlanta on loan in 2017, the team’s first MLS season, and then joined the club on a permanent basis in 2020 after another stint at Portsmouth.
Walkes then joined Charlotte FC for the 2022 MLS season.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the tragic death of Anton Walkes,” said his former club Atlanta United FC said in a statement. “As a founding member of Atlanta United, Anton was the epitome of a great teammate with a personality that lit up every room he walked into.
“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. On behalf of everyone at Atlanta United, we extend our deepest condolences to Anton’s family, friends and Charlotte FC.”
Zoran Krneta, Charlotte FC sporting director, said the club was “heartbroken” at the loss of “a truly incredible father, a loving person and an outstanding human being”.
“Anton embodied what it means to be a part of Charlotte Football Club and our entire community mourns this tragedy,” added Krneta.
“The impact he left in the dressing room and throughout Charlotte will never be forgotten. We are thinking of his dear family at this time and will give them our full support in any way we can.”