A CHAMPION water skier has been killed in an accident in the United States.

Former Billericay School pupil Karl Brooks, 25, died from a suspected broken neck after he fell while training on Lake Mead, Nevada.

Tributes came in from family and friends to the British and European champion, known as the David Beckham of water ski racing.

His devastated mother, Karen, said: "Karl had a smile which was just infectious and every single person who met him absolutely loved him.

"His brothers, my husband and myself are absolutely devastated. He has left a hole in our lives which can never be filled. He was a brilliant son and we loved him dearly."

Karl's brother, Kurt, 16, said: "He was a hero to me and my brother, Scott.

"Skiing was his great passion in life. He was one of the best there has ever been and he died doing what he loved most."

Karl was raised in Wash Road, Billericay, and his family still live in Wickford.

He was a multiple British Formula One water ski racing champion, winning the European Championships last year and coming second in the World Championships in 2005. He was often pulled along by speedboats at over 100mph.

The product of a skiing family dynasty, Karl had carried on the success of his grandfathers, Peter and Don, who were water ski racers.

His parents also met through competing in the sport.

He has raced in the US, Australia, New Zealand and all over Europe, and even met Tony and Cherie Blair last year.

Hundreds of tributes have been left on water ski racing internet site www.skirace.net, following the tragic accident last Thursday.

His long-time friend, Robbie Llewellyn, said: "Karl was one of the nicest people in our sport.

"Far beyond his ability to ski, he was fun, lively and a positive character, who had so many friends and who was liked for being the great person he was."

His girlfriend, Laura Russell, added: "Words just can't describe Karl.

"He was the best thing that ever happened in my life and I will never forget him.

"Neither will anyone else who had the pleasure of knowing him.

"He was a real champion and skiing was his life. He will be forever missed, however never forgotten."

His father Martin said the family had taken heart from the hundreds of tributes left on the site, adding: "He packed a lot into his short life and we will always be proud of him.

"He was a top sportsman and a lovely lad too.

"We loved our boy, but didn't realise how many people around the world loved him too.

"We would like to thank everyone for their support, which provided us with a great deal of comfort at this terrible time."

Hundreds of people were expected to attend a memorial service in Las Vegas.

His body will be flown home over the next two weeks and he will be buried in Great Burstead Church.