Big-wave surfer Alec Cooke cheated death countless times in more than 50 years of surfing, but friends fear the legend known as "Ace Cool" may have finally met his match. The 59-year-old was reported missing on Wednesday when he failed to return from a surfing trip on the north shore of Oahu, and the Coast Guard says it has now called off the search after covering an area the size of New Jersey, CNN reports. Cooke's truck was found outside a church with his keys—and dog—still inside, and a friend has recovered his surfboard, according to a Coast Guard press release. The search off the coast of Hawaii involved helicopters, a Hercules C-130 aircraft, and Jet Skis, reports NBC News.
"We saturated the area in an attempt to locate Mr. Cooke, but pending further developments, we have decided to suspend the active search," a Coast Guard spokesman says. "The Pacific Ocean is very dangerous, especially when we have heavy surf conditions." Cooke, who was born in Boston and grew up in Hawaii, started surfing when he was 6 and made his name as the "Evel Knievel of surfing" in the '80s with stunts including a near-fatal ride of the huge winter surf of Oahu in 1985, where he was dropped off by a helicopter, reports Surfer magazine. Afterward, Cooke recalled being pinned under the surface by a 50-foot wave and thinking, "Is there air in heaven?" followed by "Is there surf in heaven?" the Washington Post reports. (Read more Hawaii stories.)