Charlotte FC have announced English defender Anton Walkes has died at the age of 25.
Walkes, who has a young daughter called Ayla with his girlfriend Alexis, received CPR from Miami Fire Rescue Wednesday before being transported to hospital, but died early Thursday.
‘We are heartbroken from the loss of Anton Walkes, a truly incredible father, loving person, and outstanding human being,’ Charlotte’s sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a statement.
‘Anton embodied what it means to be a part of Charlotte Football Club and our entire community is grieving over this tragedy.
‘The impact he made in the locker room and throughout Charlotte will never be forgotten. We are thinking of his lovely family during this time and will support them fully in every way imaginable.’
A statement to DailyMail.com from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detailed the sequence of events following the crash.
‘On January 18, 2023, at approximately 3:00pm, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers responded to a two-vessel accident near the Miami Marine Stadium basin.
‘The operator of one of the vessels, Anton C. Walkes of Charlotte, North Carolina was found unconscious and transported to shore by Miami Fire Rescue where he received CPR.
‘Mr. Walkes was taken to an area hospital where he later died from his injuries. Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and fans of Mr. Walkes during this difficult time.
‘This is an active investigation and there is no further information available at this time.’
In their own statement, Major League Soccer expressed their pain at the ‘tragic’ news of Walkes’ death early Thursday, following the boating accident in South Florida.
‘There are no words to describe the sorrow of everyone in Major League Soccer today after learning of the tragic passing of Anton Walkes of Charlotte FC,’ the statement read.
Anton was a talented and dedicated player who was loved by his teammates and fans. We extend our deepest condolences to his partner, family, friends, and the entire Charlotte FC family.
‘MLS is coordinating with Charlotte FC to provide players and family members with the resources and support they may need during this tragic time.’
Less than 24 hours ago Walkes shared a photo of him training on his Instagram story. Charlotte arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on January 9 for a 12-day training camp.
The Royal Family, a supporters’ group of Charlotte FC, detailed a vigil that will be held Thursday to honor Walkes’ memory.
‘Friends and family, we grieve for the loss of a member of our family today,’ their statement began.
‘Beginning at 4pm, we will hold a vigil outside the East Gate (Mint Street) of Bank of America stadium to honor the life of Anton Walkes. You are welcome to bring jerseys, banners, and signs to place against the gate. We kindly ask that if you bring a candle it remains in your hand. Love and cherish those around you.’
MLS side Colorado Rapids held a minute’s silence before training Thursday as a mark of respect.
Walkes turned professional in 2016 and began his career being nurtured through Tottenham Hotspur’s academy in England.
‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player, Anton Walkes,’ Tottenham wrote in tribute.
‘The thoughts of everyone at the Club are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.’
The Premier League side added that first team players will wear black armbands in their match Thursday with Premier League rivals Manchester City. All of their academy sides will also wear black armbands at the weekend.
Charlotte FC owner David Tepper said: ‘Everyone at Tepper Sports & Entertainment is devastated by the tragic passing of Anton Walkes. He was a tremendous son, father, partner, and teammate whose joyous approach to life touched everyone he met.
‘Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard both on and off the pitch.
‘He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton’s family during this heartbreaking time.
‘The club offers its full support to all those impacted during this period of mourning.’