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Local News

Shark Attack Victims’ Families Find Solace in Each Other

Commemoration of Francisco Solorio Jr.'s 2012 death will include the dedication of a new bench at Jalama Beach

A colorful array of balloons sailed above Surf Beach on Thursday as more than a dozen people stood on a dune and looked skyward to remember a pair of men killed in separate shark attacks.

Thursday marked the anniversary of the attack that killed Francisco Solorio Jr., 39, of Orcutt in 2012.

A day earlier, the family of UCSB student Lucas Ransom, 19, remembered him on the fourth anniversary of the attack that took his life.

Standing above the beach entrance Thursday, Lucas’s dad, Matthew Ransom of Romoland, gazed across the landscape.

“Just being here and to spend time at this beach, it’s comforting in a way,” he said.

Huge waves pounded the shoreline, but the marine layer was absent.

“This is really pretty today,” he said.

Along with releasing balloons, the families put Celtic crosses and Buddha statues in the sand. 

After the Surf Beach celebration, the Solorio family headed to Jalama Beach, where dozens of Fran’s friends and relatives plan to camp through Sunday and dedicate a new bench in Fran’s memory Saturday morning. 

Before returning home to Riverside County on Thursday, the Ransoms intended to visit Jalama to see the bench location. 

Larry Kase, father-in-law of Francisco Solorio Jr., pauses before a memorial to the men killed by shark attacks at Surf Beach two years and a day apart. He is joined by Fran's daughter, Frankie, and his niece. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Lucas’ mom, Candace, said she recognizes the value of such a memorial since a Monterey cypress tree with a plaque sits at Sea Lookout Park in Isla Vista to remember Lucas, who was studying chemical engineering at UCSB. 

“It holds special meaning,” Candace Ransom said. “They will be there forever, and they will bring beauty, and people will be able to enjoy that tree, to sit underneath it. It’s like the tree of life. It’s special for us to go up there.”

His friends decorated the tree on the first Christmas after Lucas died, and she continues the tradition each year for the holiday season. The Perris High School graduate who was a junior at UCSB had hoped to attend graduate school to study pharmacology.

For Fran’s family, the bench will serve as a spot they can go and feel tranquility while looking at a place that was special to the surfer, Candace said, much like Lucas’ memorial sits at a park overlooking the ocean he also loved.

“I can feel the spirit of Lucas,” she said. “I’m sure for them, they will feel the spirit of Fran when they’re at the bench.”

The families first met in 2013, and share the bond of losing loved ones to shark attacks while doing ocean sports they loved.

“We know the pain that they’re going through,” Candace Ransom said. “Something that horrific, that is so incredible you don’t believe something like that has event happened. It’s so rare that it does happen.”

Thirteen people have died due to shark attacks off the California coast since 1952.

Having Lucas and Fran die at the same beach two years and a day apart, “It’s almost surrealistic,” Candace Ransom added. 

“It’s important to be here to honor their memories,” Candace Ransom said. 

While Lucas moved to the Central Coast for college, Fran grew up in the Santa Maria Valley, graduated from Righetti High School, attended Allan Hancock College and worked at Central  Coast Playgrounds.

Survivors include his wife, Kasey; two daughters, Monique and Frankie; parents, Francisco and Consuelo; several siblings and more.

Fran’s sister, Patricia Solorio, said the family appreciates the support of the Ransoms, who understand the shock and oddness of the loss.

“They’ve been so supportive of our family. We’re just so grateful to them,” she said.

But Solorio also worries others aren’t heeding the danger.

“I wish that people wouldn’t take it so lightly,” she said. “It’s very obvious something’s going on out here.

“I’m not saying don’t go in the water. I’m saying maybe not here, maybe not in October.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

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