Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 3:01 pm | Fair 76º


Local News

Family Says Shark Victim ‘Died Doing What He Loved’

Expert confirms a great white shark was responsible for Tuesday’s attack

Relatives of the 39-year-old Orcutt man who died Tuesday after he was attacked by a shark while surfing at Surf Beach near Lompoc say they are grateful for community support, but would appreciate privacy as they deal with the sudden loss of a son, father and friend.

Patricia Solorio, a sister of Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., recited an official statement from his family Wednesday, which did not include pending funeral arrangements.

“He died doing what he loved,” she said. “He leaves behind his beautiful daughter and loving friends. The family wishes for this to remain a private matter.”

Patricia Solorio went on to thank friends and community members.

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. was fatally injured Tuesday when he was bitten in the upper torso area while surfing at Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base west of Lompoc, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

“The shark in this tragic incident has been positively identified as a 15–16-foot great white shark,” sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams said late Wednesday afternoon.

That determination came after Ralph Collier from the Shark Research Committee in Chatsworth, Calif., examined Solorio’s body, Williams said.

The incident, reported shortly before 11 a.m. by another surfer who was in the area, occurred some 500 yards north of Ocean Beach county park, Williams said.

Vandenberg Fire Department personnel were the first to reach the scene, and took over the first-aid efforts, Williams said, but Solorio eventually was declared dead by paramedics.

Surf Beach and other Vandenberg beaches were expected to remain closed for 72 hours following the attack, according to base officials.

A great white shark was the “leading suspect” in Tuesday’s attack, according to Milton Love, a research biologist at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute who has written a book about fish found off the Pacific coast.

“If you’re bitten by a shark in California, the chances are astronomically good that it’s a white shark,” Love said, noting that’s almost always the case. “That makes sense because it’s the most abundant of the large sharks that would be likely to eat something like a human.”

Love said tropical sharks, which are the only other type known to attack, very rarely make the journey into the cooler waters off the Central Coast.

A great white shark was also responsible for an attack that killed a UCSB student in the same location two years ago almost to the day. That death was Santa Barbara County’s first mainland fatal shark attack.

The sharks spend August through February off the Central Coast, Love said, and then head to Hawaii for breeding.

“Most of that coastline, you do run some risk,” Love said. “It’s the right time of the year.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >