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Home / shark attack

Stretch of beach to be closed after apparent shark attack in Del Mar

A two-mile stretch of beach in Del Mar will be closed through at least Sunday as a precaution after a swimmer was injured in an apparent shark attack.

Lifeguards will perform drone flyovers and patrol the area throughout the weekend from dawn until dusk in search of sharks, according to city officials.

A 50-year-old woman suffered leg wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening while swimming with a companion about 100 yards from shore near the terminus of 17th Street at about 10 a.m. Friday, said Jon Edelbrock, Del Mar’s lifeguard chief.

After lifeguards helped the victim to shore and provided first aid, paramedics took her to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was admitted in stable condition.

Lifeguards then searched the water for sharks, finding none.

Though officials could not immediately confirm that the woman’s injuries were due to a shark, it appeared to be the case, Edelbrock said.

“She was fairly (sure) that she saw a shark,” he said.

It was unclear what species or size of shark it might have been.

Serious shark attacks remain fairly rare in the San Diego area, though a handful have occurred in recent years.

On Sept. 29, 2018, 13-year-old Keane Hayes of Encinitas was mauled by a great white shark while lobster diving off the coast of his coastal hometown. Though critically injured, the boy recovered following surgery for a wound that stretched over the left side of his body and head, from his upper back and torso to his arm and the side of his face, his physicians told reporters.

On April 29, 2017, 35-year-old Leeanne Ericson of Vista was gravely injured in a shark attack as she swam in the surf about an hour before sunset off the coast of San Onofre Beach on the grounds of Camp Pendleton. Though the sea predator tore off much of her right buttocks and thigh, Ericson survived.

The most recent recorded local fatal shark encounter took place on the morning of April 25, 2008, when a great white attacked 66-year-old retired veterinarian and fitness aficionado David Martin of Solana Beach as he swam with fellow triathletes near a surf spot known as Table Tops, south of San Elijo Lagoon.

The attack left Martin’s legs nearly severed. He was pronounced dead at a nearby lifeguard station about an hour later.

Martin’s death may have been the first fatal San Diego-area shark attack since April 1994, when the shark-ravaged body of 25-year-old Michelle Von Emster washed ashore at Sunset Cliffs, south of Ocean Beach. The county Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that she had died of a shark attack.

However, several experts, including Richard Rosenblatt, professor emeritus of marine biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, opined at the time that Von Emster might have drowned before sharks found and fed on her body.

Prior to that incident, the last recorded deadly shark attack in San Diego County occurred offshore from La Jolla in 1959, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Shark File.

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