A shark killed a surfer near Santa Barbara, California, on Tuesday, officials said, nearly two years to the day after another rare but deadly attack off the same US beach.
The 38-year-old victim died despite efforts from other members of a group of four surfers off Surf Beach near the Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
“It’s a confirmed fatal attack,” the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said, adding that a fellow surfer had raised the alarm after the victim was attacked while surfing mid-morning.
“A friend, who was also surfing and witnessed the shark attack, swam over to assist the victim, pulling him out of the ocean and onto the beach,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“The victim’s friend started first aid procedures ... The Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department arrived and took over emergency procedures. The male victim was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics,” it said.
“The type of shark involved and other details are under investigation at this point,” it added, saying the victim’s identity was being withheld until next of kin had been informed.
Almost exactly two years ago — on Oct. 22, 2010 — a 19-year-old surfer was killed a short distance off the same beach, when a shark pulled him under and inflicted a “massive wound,” police said.
That shark was described as up to 6m long. The victim was identified as Lucas McKaine Ransom. Santa Barbara is 215km northwest along the Pacific coast from Los Angeles.
Before the 2010 attack, the last death of this kind involved a great white shark in California in 2008, when a 66-year-old man was attacked as he swam with friends off a beach in San Diego.
The number of attacks has increased over the last decade: between 1950 and 1989, there were eight shark attacks in California. Since 2003, there have been six including Tuesday’s incident.