The American surfer killed in Mexico was planning his wedding. Now his family is planning his funeral

Carter Rhoad, 30, was killed alongside two Australian brothers, Callum Robinson, 33, and Jake Robinson, 30, while they were on a surfing trip in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula

Andrea Cavallier
Tuesday 07 May 2024 23:00 BST
Parents ID bodies of murdered surfers

A countdown clock on Carter Rhoad and Natalie Weirtz’s wedding website was still ticking away, counting down the minutes, hours and days until the couple’s big day at the end of the summer.

But tragically, that day will never come.

Rhoad, 30, was shot and killed alongside two Australian brothers, Callum Robinson, 33, and Jake Robinson, 30, while they were on a surfing trip in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

He was just three months away from getting married to his 32-year-old fiancée in mid August at a craft brewery in Columbus, Ohio, according to their wedding site.

The couple’s engagement from July 2023 was the final post on the American surfer’s Facebook page. Photos show Rhoad down on one knee in the sand at the edge of the ocean holding a ring up to his beaming fiancée.

Carter Rhoad
Carter Rhoad (Carter Redd Rhoad/Facebook)

Rhoad was a native of Georgia, but had been living in San Diego where he founded an online apparel company called Loma Apparel, according to his LinkedIn page, which made casual tees and caps. Most recently he’d been a director at a business consulting company.

“I love people,” his LinkedIn bio reads. “I’m lucky to have found a ‘job’ that fuels my passion for problem-solving by connecting the right people with the right companies.”

“Building genuine relationships is one of the most rewarding things in life, and I feel humbled every day by the people who surround me. Obstacles are just opportunities in costumes, they can be scary or they can be fun just depends on how you look at them.”

Carter Rhoad
Carter Rhoad (LinkedIn/carterrhoad)

Last month, his fiancée, who is a designer, celebrated her bachelorette party in Florida with friends, according to her social media posts.

Now, her friends are rallying for the public’s support to help her through the “heartbreaking loss,” according to a GoFundMe page that was created by one of her friends, Aubrey Byers.

“In the wake of the heartbreaking loss of Carter Rhoad, Callum Robinson, and Jake Robinson, our hearts ache with grief for their families, friends, and community. Their presence brought immeasurable joy, love, and kindness to those around them, leaving a mark on our lives,” the campaign reads.

Ms Byers explains why the GoFundMe was created.

“We’ve created this GoFundMe page for two purposes: the first is to rally support for Natalie during this unimaginably difficult time and provide essentials such as housing, food, transportation, and more,” she wrote.

“The second is to honor Carter by raising money for scholarships and donations he felt passionate about. No donation is too small, and every contribution is deeply appreciated.”


“If you’re unable to donate, please consider sharing this page with your community. Together, we can continue to surround this family with the love and support they need to navigate this challenging journey. Thank you for your kindness, compassion, and solidarity during this time of profound loss,” Ms Byers concluded.

Another GoFundMe appeared to be specifically for the Rhoad family was created by Lee Penland, who wrote that he’s a friend of Hal and Page Rhoad, Carter’s parents.

“We’ve created this GoFundMe to support the Rhoad family during this unimaginably difficult time and provide essentials such as housing, food, transportation, and more,” he wrote. “No donation is too small, and every contribution is deeply appreciated.”

Rhoad, along with his friends, the Robinson brothers, were on a camping and surfing trip along a stretch of coast, south of the city of Ensenada, posting idyllic photos on social media of waves and isolated beaches, when they went missing on 27 April.

Jake Robinson, was a physician in Australia, and had traveled to San Diego to visit his brother Callum, who lived and worked in the San Diego area, where Rhoad also lived.

Images from Callum’s Instagram stories show the three men at Rosarito Beach, and another showed their white Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck – which was later found burnt out in the Santo Tomás area.

Aussie brothers Jake and Callum Robinson
Aussie brothers Jake and Callum Robinson (Supplied)

On the image of the truck on the beach, Callum wrote, “… and it begins,” alongside an emoji of the Mexican flag.

Family members said the men had booked an Airbnb in Rosarito Beach, but never showed up.

On 3 May, Mexican officials announced the tragic news that the surfers’ bodies had been found.

Chief state prosecutor María Elena Andrade Ramírez said on Sunday that she believed the killers drove by and saw the surfers’ pickup truck and tents, and wanted to steal the truck’s tires. But “when (the foreigners) came up and caught them, surely, they resisted,” she added.

“When they tried to get the vehicles, the victims opposed the robbery,” she said. “The robbers were armed with a firearm and then apparently shot the victims.”

The thieves then allegedly went to what she called “a site that is extremely hard to get to” and dumped the bodies into a well, they apparently were familiar with, and covered the hole with boards.

“It was literally almost impossible to find it,” Ramírez said. She added that it took two hours to winch the bodies out of the well.

The prosecutor said that the relatives had viewed the bodies recovered from a remote well about 50 feet deep, and recognized them as their loved ones.

A fourth body was found with the young men. It is believed to be the remains of a rancher who owned the property and went missing two weeks earlier. His death is not believed to be linked to the case, authorities said.

Ms Andrade Ramírez said investigators were not ruling out the possibility that the same suspects dumped the fourth body in the well as part of a previous crime.

Investigators announced that three Mexican citizens had been charged with a crime equivalent to kidnapping in connection with the tourists’ disappearance.

They are Jesús Gerardo, whose alias is “el Kekas”, a slang word that means “quesadillas”; his partner Ari Gisel García Cota; and Jesús’ brother, Cristian Alejandro Garcia. They have not been charged with murder.

On Sunday, surfers in Ensenada, Mexico led a “paddle-out” ceremony where they formed a circle on their boards in the ocean to pay their respects.

Back in San Diego, more than 150 people gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the three surfers.

On Tuesday, the Robinson parents spoke out for the first time since their son’s bodies were found.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Callum and Jake have been murdered,” said their mother Debra, as she read out a statement in San Diego.

“Our hearts are broken and the world has become a darker place for us.

“We also mourn the loss of [Jack] Carter Rhoad, a close friend. They were young men enjoying their passion of surfing together.”

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