A fatal shark attack has occurred at Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base in sharky Northern Santa Barbara County.
The Santa Maria Times is reporting that the victim was a 20-year old UCSB student from Orange County whose name has not yet been released. CNN has even joined in the reporting. Coverage from KEY News follows.
“Base officials have confirmed to KEY News that a person has died of an apparent shark attack at Surf Beach.
Vandenberg Public Information Officer Jeremy Eggers says the Santa Barbara County coroner’s office is now investigating. Eggers would not say any more about the incident until the coroner releases details. He would not confirm whether the victim was a local student who was “boogie boarding”, or someone affiliated with the base.
A source familar with the incident tells KEY News the victim “had his leg bitten off and lost too much blood.” The coroner has not confirmed this account. A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer is expected to release more information shortly. Officials at Vandenberg have closed Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches as a result. The beaches will be closed for a 72 hour period. A portion of Surf Beach is accessible to the public.
The last known attack at Surf Beach took place back in September of 2008. A surfer reported having his board bitten by a shark. A fatal shark attack occured at Avila Beach in 2003 killing Nipomo resident Dorborah Franzman. Officials confirm that attack was by a Great White shark. ”
A 19-year-old UCSB student was killed today when he was attacked by a large shark while boogie boarding on the break line about 100 yards off Surf Beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The victim, who has been identified as Lucas McKaine Ransom, of Romoland, a city near Perris Valley in Riverside County, was in the water with a friend between 9 and 9:30 a.m. when a shark bit his leg off, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
Federal and State Fish and Game officials are working to identify the type of shark, which was described as being 14 to 20 feet in length.
The friend, who was surfing on a regular surf board, brought Ransom to shore after he was pulled underwater by the shark, but his injuries were severe and he bled to death, Brown said.
Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches have been closed for a minimum of 72 hours, according to Lt. Ann Blodzinski, the public affairs officer for the base.
Surf Beach, which is west of Lompoc on Vandenberg Air Force Base property, is the closest publicly accessible beach for Lompoc Valley residents. It is also easily accessed from a nearby Amtrak station that serves the area.
In September 2008, a shark bit a surfer’s board at Surf Beach and base officials issued a 48-hour warning to beach users.
Base officials said at the time that they believed it was the first shark incident off Vandenberg and sought recommendations from other coastal parks about their policies for beach closures.
Jalama Beach, a county site just south of the base, has no restrictions beyond the normal signs warning of hazardous surf and dangerous conditions, officials said this morning.
“Jalama Beach rarely ever has shark sightings,” said Clay Garland, head ranger.
In 12 years he recalled two reports of shark sightings at Jalama, while Surf Beach is known as a shark area, he said.
After a fatal shark attack in Avila Beach killed Nipomo resident Deborah Franzman, Port San Luis Obispo officials adopted a policy in 2003 for notifying people about possible ocean hazards.
Based on a memorandum of understanding with VAFB, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau will conduct the death investigation due to the incident occurring off the beach and in the water. The Santa Barbara County Parks Department is posting warning signs at county beaches in the Jalama and Guadalupe beach areas. Please call VAFB Public Affairs at (805) 606-3595 for any questions regarding beach closures on the base.