Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 8:12 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Shark Bites Surfer at Montaña De Oro State Beach in San Luis Obispo County

Surfing partner says 50-year-old Morro Bay man was dragged under near Sandspit; beaches remain open after incident

A 50-year-old man was attacked by a shark at Montaña De Oro State Beach while surfing Sunday, according to authorities in San Luis Obispo County.

Morro Bay surfer Andrew Walsh holds the board that his surfing partner, Kevin Swanson, was riding when he was attacked by a shark at Montana De Oro State Beach. Walsh helped Swanson paddle back to shore and got help. (Laura Dickinson / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)
Morro Bay surfer Andrew Walsh holds the board that his surfing partner, Kevin Swanson, was riding when he was attacked by a shark at Montaña De Oro State Beach. Walsh helped Swanson paddle back to shore and got help. (Laura Dickinson / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)

State Park Rangers supervisor Robert Colligan said the man was surfing in the area of the Sandspit shortly after 11 a.m. when an 8- to 10-foot juvenile shark swam up underneath him and grazed his surfboard and right hip with its teeth.

Colligan could not confirm the name of the surfer, but a witness at the scene, Toni Swanson of Morro Bay, confirmed the man is her husband, Kevin Swanson.

Andrew Walsh, who was surfing with Swanson at the time of the attack, said the shark swam from beneath Swanson’s board and dragged him under with no warning.

“It was really radical,” he said. “I was about 10 feet from him, and it was absolutely quiet. ... (The shark) came straight up out of the depths and got him and took him under the water. That was the amazing part: this big giant side of the shark just curving up out of the water.”

Walsh said Swanson was below the water for several seconds before he surfaced on his board, yelled “shark attack” and began paddling for shore.

Once he reached shore, Swanson used the leash cord from his surfboard to fashion a tourniquet for his leg where the shark bit him, Walsh said. Two doctors who had been walking on the beach helped Swanson, as well, and determined that no major arteries had been hit, Walsh said.

“We’re really blessed that he was still able to get himself to shore,” Walsh said. “I was a few feet behind him, and we grabbed him and got him out of the water, obviously, up on the sand, and very quickly these doctors where there, helping out and calling 9-1-1.”

Swanson was taken by air ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Sierra Vista media representative Ron Yukelson said Swanson was in fair condition as of 3 p.m. Sunday. Swanson could not be reached for comment.

Colligan said several local agencies responded to the call, including the Cayucos Fire Department, Cal Fire, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard and State Parks rangers.

Authorities will not close the beach because of the attack, Colligan said.

Instead, as per San Luis Obispo County’s coastal incident management plan, State Parks will post notifications throughout the beach informing visitors of the attack.

The notifications will stay in place for five days, unless another shark sighting occurs, at which point the signs will stay up for an additional five days, Colligan said.

In the meantime, surfers and beach visitors are encouraged to use caution in the area, he said.

[Click here to read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.]

Kaytlyn Leslie is a reporter with the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact her at [email protected].

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