California on zero dollars a day? Well, first you gotta get some sponsors, kids, so they can give you free stuff and you can go home and sell it to all your friends." -Dustin Ray, The Decline, 2000
Last weekend, Dustin Christopher Ray aka "D-Ray" passed away at the age of 39. Though the official cause of death is yet to be determined, the Morro Bay, CA, fixture was known as much for his struggles with substance abuse as he was surfing accolades. Unashamed and honest, Dustin even allowed his addictions to be publicized, if not lampooned, in the 2000 ...Lost movie The Decline.
Regardless of whatever cautionary tales may soon arise from the tragedy, the saddest part of this story involves Dustin's three children, two of whom are now orphans. In 2005, Dustin's 23-year-old fiancé Marcel Sueann Groesbeck, the mother of two of those children, was killed on impact after her car plunged off the east side of Highway 1 in Cayucos, falling more than 50 feet through pine trees before crashing into 13th Street some 200 feet from the highway.
One of Dustin's oldest friends and most faithful supporters, Azhiaziam founder and photographer Mike Jones, has set up a memorial page on Facebook while also requesting donations be sent to assist Dustin's mother, who is now responsible for the children's care. Meanwhile, Jones and friends are in the process of organizing a memorial paddle-out for September 29th at 11am at Morro Rock, one of Dustin's favorite hometown haunts.