A man surfing on the Central California coast was dragged under water by a juvenile great white shark and bitten in the hip on Sunday before he could paddle to shore, where he received help from two doctors who happened to be on the beach, a witness said Sunday.
The man in his 50s used the leash cord from his surfboard to make a tourniquet for his leg before he got out of the water, Andrew Walsh told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
“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 … up on the sand, and very quickly these doctors were there, helping out and calling 911.”
The man, who lives in the San Luis Obispo area, sustained cuts to his right hip area and was flown to a local hospital for treatment, Supervising State Park Ranger Robert Colligan said. The 11:30 a.m. attack happened at the Sand Spit Beach in Montana De Oro State Park just west of San Luis Obispo.
Walsh said he was surfing about 10 feet from the victim when the attack occurred.
“There was no warning at all. It was absolutely quiet. … (The shark) came straight up out of the depths and got him and took him under the water.”
The victim was below the water for several seconds before he surfaced on his damaged board, he said.
The beach remained open, but signs will be posted for three days warning the public of the attack, Colligan said. He noted that if there is another shark sighting, the signs will remain up for another three days.
Sharks are native to the area, and Colligan said that they are spotted several times a year. He added that attacks like this are rare.
A woman swimming with seals was killed by a shark in 2003 about 10 miles south of the most recent attack, Colligan said.