A man killed in a surfing accident in Tofino has been identified online as a research student from the University of Victoria.

The accident happened in the waters off Long Beach at around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Witnesses say the young man appeared to be with a group of people learning to surf, and was later seen on shore having CPR performed on him.

"There was a group of new surfers with their blue boards gathered down by the water, and it wasn't until they moved a little bit that I noticed somebody was giving chest compressions to someone else on the ground there," said John DeVries.

The BC Coroners Service hasn't officially confirmed the identity or cause of death of the deceased man, but he's been identified by friends in a GoFundMe campaign as Nijin John, a UVic student in his 20s.

John was "a beloved son, brother, and a friend," the post says, and all proceeds from the GoFundMe campaign will be used for funeral expenses. The campaign had already met its $18,000 goal as of Monday.

Conditions were mild Saturday with relatively calm waters that would normally be ideal for beginner surfers.

A lifeguard tower was removed from the beach several years ago, which has been a contentious issue for locals.

"Maybe this will make some changes in that regard, I don't know," said DeVries.