Onetime surfing legend Kevin Reed, a.k.a. Kevin Callahan, was arrested Sunday and questioned by Santa Cruz police in connection to the death of another man whose body was found by some volleyball courts near Santa Cruz's Main Beach. Callahan, 58, reportedly got into an altercation with the dead man, 52-year-old Steven Lee, on Saturday night at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, according to witnesses. Both men are known to be homeless and denizens of the beach. As KSBW reports, Callahan admits that he choked Lee during the fight, but insists that Lee was alive when he left him that night. Lee's body was then discovered Sunday morning, and Callahan was found sleeping about 100 feet away.
As Bay City News reports, the argument Saturday night was allegedly about alcohol.
Callahan was held for questioning and initially accused of murder but was released Tuesday without any charges, police say, for lack of evidence.
CBS 5 reports that back in the 1970s, when he was known as Kevin Reed, he made a name for himself in the surfing world for his aerials, and was featured on the cover of Surfing magazine in 1975. And, looking considerably better than he does now, Callahan was featured in the 2010 surfing documentary The Westsiders.
Friend and former pro surfer Bob Pearson says that Callahan was the first to "do air" in the 70s and did it five years before anyone else, and he tells CBS 5 "What I do know is Kevin is not an aggressive personality, he wouldn’t go looking for a fight."
In footage shot Tuesday at the beach by KSBW, Callahan says, "I didn't do it," and suggests that he was the one to discover Lee's body when he went to wake him up to have a cigarette. He also says that Lee had consumed two bottles of wine and two bottles of vodka the night before.