Tuesday, October 16 , 2018, 8:34 am | Fair 53º


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].

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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, 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
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

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.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • 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.