Family and friends of popular Winnipeg restaurateur Peter Scouras are reeling after hearing about the sudden death of the 33-year-old while he was on vacation.

Scouras was in Costa Rica for a rugby tournament holiday with his team, the Wombats Rugby Club.

"He's my best buddy and I'm going to miss him like crazy," said his brother, Demitris Scouras.

Peter and a couple of other teammates went swimming Monday morning, and his brother said they became caught in a large undercurrent or riptide.

Demitris said a surfer came to rescue the men by putting them on his surfboard and taking Peter toward the beach, but right before getting to the shore, Peter went unconscious.

Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive his brother. Demitris said he believes the death was a secondary drowning.

Secondary drowning can happen when a person breathes water into their lungs where it builds up. It causes a condition called pulmonary edema, which makes it difficult to breathe. The Canadian Lifesaving Manual no longer uses the term and just classifies it as drowning.

Peter Scouras ran the Red Top restaurant with his mother, Vicky, after his father, John Scouras, died unexpectedly while on vacation in Greece in 2007.

'A lot of tears': Peter Scouras's death mourned1:03

'We've been through this before'

"My mom, my sister are a mess and rightfully so. This happened 10 years ago with my dad, so we've been through this before with my dad unfortunately," Demitris said.

"The first couple days here are tough, but the weeks to come are going to be even tougher."

Red Top restaurant

Peter ran the Red Top restaurant with his mother after his father died unexpectedly while on vacation in Greece in 2007. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Longtime friend Bob Holliday said Peter sponsored numerous community events and organizations, such as the St.Vital Museum, where Holliday works.

"He was very community minded and that's the best thing I can say about him," Holliday said, adding Peter got his degree in commerce from the University of Manitoba but his first love was the Red Top.

Peter walked into the restaurant on the 200 block of St. Mary's Rd. Saturday or Sunday mornings, picked up a pot of coffee and started serving customers, said Holliday. He was a big help to his mother after his father died.

"He knew 99 per cent of his customers," said Holliday. "The only ones he didn't know were the ones who had never been there before."