Re­minder of the dan­gers of the ocean – A look at 10 lo­cal shark at­tacks

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY NICK WIL­SON nwil­[email protected]­bune­news.com

A wild tale of a surfer fight­ing for his life while kick­ing away a great white shark was one of 10 re­ported Cen­tral Coast at­tacks on peo­ple over the past 15 years.

Over­all, more than 100 shark at­tacks have been recorded in Cal­i­for­nia’s coastal wa­ters since 2003, with five re­sult­ing in death, in­clud­ing two along the Cen­tral Coast, ac­cord­ing to shark ex­pert Ralph Col­lier at sharkre­search­com­mit­tee.com.

Nick Wap­ner — the 19-yearold Cal Poly stu­dent who was bit­ten Tues­day morn­ing off Sand­spit Beach in Mon­taña de Oro — came away, say­ing he was “lucky to be alive.”

“Any time you en­ter the water, there’s a chance this can hap­pen,” said Mike Har­ris, a se­nior en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist for the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife. “But for some­body who sees this data on a day-to-day ba­sis of shark ac­tiv­ity, I still get in the (ocean)

water and I love the water. I’m aware of the risk and I pay at­ten­tion to my sur­round­ings. It’s for the in­di­vid­ual to de­cide if the risk worth the re­ward.”

All but one lo­cal in­ci­dent in­cluded the iden­tity of the at­tack vic­tim, save for a kayaker who, on Oct. 3, 2014, was knocked off his boat in the ocean water near Van­den­berg Air Force Base.

Here are the sto­ries:

Jan. 8, 2019 — Surfer kicks shark in the head af­ter sud­den at­tack at Mon­taña de Oro: Nick Wap­ner, of San Luis Obispo, was po­si­tion­ing him­self for an in­com­ing set of waves when he felt pres­sure on his legs and re­al­ized an es­ti­mated 15-foot great white shark was clamp­ing down on both limbs. He kicked the shark in the head and freed him­self, suf­fer­ing deep wounds to his legs, but no dam­age to ar­ter­ies (he re­ceived 50 stitches). Wap­ner rushed to shore and hiked five min­utes to a car be­fore his friend drove him to the hos­pi­tal. “It all hap­pened quick-

ly, but I turned and saw that it had one of my legs in its mouth,” Wap­ner told The Tri­bune.

Sept. 1, 2016 – Diver uses spear gun to fend off at­tack at Refu­gio Point:

A great white bit 22-year-old Tyler McQuillen’s flip­per, pulling it off as he was spearfish­ing. Af­ter an ini­tial “tug” to his fin, McQuillen, a col­lege stu­dent, of Santa Bar­bara, re­al­ized he was in for a fight and grabbed his spear and fended off the great white with a poke af­ter it neared him a sec­ond time. McQuillen told me­dia out­lets he feared for his life when the shark re­turned. Part of the in­ci­dent was cap­tured on a GoPro cam­era.

Aug. 29, 2015 – Surfer’s board chomped in Morro Bay:

Los Osos res­i­dent Eli­nor Dempsey, 54, re­ceived a ma­jor scare while wait­ing for a wave dur­ing surf­ing ses­sion at Morro Strand State Beach. An es­ti­mated 11- to 12foot great white shark took a mas­sive chunk out of her red surf­board, leav­ing a half-moon hole edged in teeth marks. Dempsey was un­scathed and went back into the water to surf a month later, ad­mit­ting she was ex­cited but “ner­vous.”

Dec. 28, 2014 — Surfer fash­ions tourni­quet to stop thigh bleed­ing at Mon­tana de Oro:

Kevin Swan­son, 50, of Morro Bay, was surf­ing at Sand­spit Beach when his right hip and thigh were torn open by the bite of an 8to 10-foot-long great white. The shark dragged him un­der­wa­ter be­fore he was able to es­cape. Once he got ashore, he used his surf­board leash to fash­ioned a tourni­quet for his leg and got help from two doc­tors who hap­pened to be on the beach at the time. He told The Tri­bune: “My main con­cern then was get­ting to the beach, stop­ping the bleed­ing and get­ting help.”

Oct. 3, 2014 — Kayaker knocked into ocean at Van­den­berg:

While fish­ing from his kayak, Ryan How­ell of Lom­poc was thrown into the air when his boat was struck by an es­ti­mated 16to 20-foot shark at Van­den­berg Wall Beach. How­ell fell into the water but was un­in­jured and later re­vealed the bite marks on his kayak. How­ell wit­nesses an­other in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a shark at­tack­ing an uniden­ti­fied kayaker the same day, he told the Santa Maria Sun.

July 5, 2014 — Surfer knocked off board at Oceano Dunes State Beach —

Ron John­son re­ported his board was vi­o­lently struck by an es­ti­mated 8- to 9-foot shark that raised him up in the air and knocked him off his board, ac­cord­ing to sharkre­search­com­mit­tee.com. John­son said he hoisted him­self back on his board and headed for shore, un­in­jured.

Oct. 22, 2010 — Body boarder killed at Van­den­berg’s Surf Beach —

UCSB stu­dent Lu­cas McKaine Ran­som, 19, of Ro­moland in River­side County, was fa­tally wounded by a large shark while body board­ing. The shark bit and sev­ered the leg of the for­mer life­guard and com­pet­i­tive swim­mer, and he cried out to a friend, say­ing “help me, dude” be­fore he dis­ap­peared un­der the water in a cloud of red, the Santa Maria Times re­ported.

July 2, 2010 – Surfer bit­ten on foot off Pismo Beach —

Derek Crane, 19, of San Luis Obispo, was bit­ten on the left foot while surf­ing at Silver Shoals. He de­scribed a 4-foot brown shark with dark spots. Nu­mer­ous sea li­ons were ob­served along the coast at the time, and au­thor­i­ties is­sued warn­ings af­ter the at­tack, ac­cord­ing to Noozhawk.

Aug. 19, 2003 — Woman killed swim­ming near the Avila Beach Pier —

Al­lan Han­cock Col­lege pro­fes­sor Deb­bie Franz­man, 50, of Nipomo, was killed by a shark while swim­ming among sea li­ons. Franz­man, an avid ocean swim­mer, was alone within view of beach­go­ers on the Avila Beach Pier and of about 30 life­guards train­ing on the beach. The shark came from un­der­neath her and tore the tis­sue of Franz­man’s thigh in a vi­cious at­tack, sev­er­ing a femoral artery. Life­guards swam to pull her from the water, but she was pro­nounced dead at the scene.

LAURA DICKINSON ldick­in­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Los Osos res­i­dent Eli­nor Dempsey es­caped in­jury when her surf­board was bit­ten by an 11- or 12-foot great white shark on Aug. 29, 2015, at Morro Strand State Beach. She was back on her board in the water a month later.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP dmid­dle­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Gar­ret Swan­son shows the short board his dad, Kevin, was sit­ting on when the shark sur­faced and bit his leg and the bot­tom of the board on Dec. 28, 2014, at Mon­taña de Oro State Park.

Nick Wap­ner

DAVID MIDDLECAMP dmid­dle­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Kevin Swan­son of Morro Bay was bit­ten by a shark on Dec. 28, 2014, while surf­ing off Sand­spit Beach at Mon­tana de Oro. He used his surf­board leash as a tourni­quet to stop the bleed­ing.

Deb­bie Franz­man

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