A college student simply bodyboarding and enjoying morning waves Friday was attacked off the coast of California by what a friend described as an 18-foot shark, receiving a bite wound to his leg that would prove fatal. The Associated Press reported that the shark attack lasted mere seconds. Although he would be retrieved from the water, and despite efforts of his friend, 19-year-old Lucas Ransom would succumb to his wound — his missing left leg.
University of California – Santa Barbara Student Lucas Ransom was only two feet away from his friend, Matthew Garcia, when he suddenly was pulled under the waves. Garcia said Ransom yelled, “Help me, dude!” because he understood what was happening.
“It was really fast,” Garcia said. “You just saw a red wave and this water is blue – as blue as it could ever be – and it was just red, the whole wave.”
Garcia, 20, who was best friends with Lucas Ransom since they played together on water polo and swim teams at Perris High School in Riverside County, said, “There was no sign, there was nothing. It was all very fast, very stealth.”
Garcia said he tried to find Ransom as the waves kept crashing around him but could see nothing. He began swimming to shore to get help and turned for another look and saw Ransom’s bodyboard bobbing in the water. He gathered his unresponsive friend and headed to shore.
“He was just floating in the water,” Garcia told the Associated Press. “I flipped him over on his back and underhooked his arms. I was pressing on his chest and doing rescue breathing in the water. He was just kind of lifeless, just dead weight.”
It was the two students’ first visit to Surf Beach in Santa Barbara. They planned to ride the waves until 11:00 a.m., then head to class.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Grossini said at a Friday press conference that Ransom had suffered a massive leg wound and had been pronounced dead at the scene by Vandenberg AFB fire department personnel. Authorities have as yet been unable to find the missing limb. They were, however, able to retrieve the body board Ransom had been using. A large chunk had been bitten out of it.
There have been several warnings issued this year by authorities after shark sightings along the California coast. The attack was the first since 2008 when a shark reportedly bit a surfer’s board. The surfer, however, was unharmed. The last person to die from a shark attack in California was 66-year-old triathlete David Martin and occurred earlier that same year.
According to the International Shark Attack File compiled by the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History, there have been eight fatal shark attacks off the California coast since 1926 (from a total of 94 attacks).
Statistics also indicate that surfers/windsurfers make up nearly 57 percent (from a 2008 summary) of all shark attack victims. Attacks on swimmers are rarer, making up almost 36 percent.
Federal and state Fish and Game officials have yet to report on what type of shark the attacker might have been.
Witnesses on shore corroborated Garcia’s account, noting that the shark breached and appeared to be from 14-18 feet in length.
Associated Press via HuffingtonPost.com