A 39-year-old man was killed late Tuesday morning while surfing near Surf Beach by what authorities described as a single shark bite that ripped through his torso and the surfboard.
The man was identified as Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. of Orcutt.
Lt. Erik Raney, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said a friend who had been surfing with the victim witnessed the shark attack, which occurred shortly before 11 a.m., and swam Solorio to shore to perform CPR while a third surfer called 9-1-1.
The Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department, the first to respond to the call for help, said Solorio was dead at the scene.
Raney would not elaborate on the injuries sustained, and he said he did not know if death was immediate or if the man died shortly after the attack.
“The surfer was out there and deceased by the time (they arrived) and the paramedics marked the death,” Raney said.
Solorio is not affiliated with Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to base officials.
Traffic making its way to Surf Beach on Tuesday was redirected by air base officials, while Santa Barbara County deputies investigated the attack.
Late Tuesday, Vandenberg officials said that Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander, ordered the closure of all beaches on base for 72 hours.
The beach closures are a precautionary measure due to the attack, base officials added.
Almost exactly two years ago from Tuesday, a shark attack off Surf Beach claimed the life of a 19-year-old UCSB student.
On Oct. 22, 2010, Lucas McKaine Ransom, of Romoland, a city in Riverside County, was killed after being attack by what a friend described as an 18-foot-long shark.
A memorial for Ransom at Surf Beach includes a framed photograph of the sandy blonde-haired young man near the entrance to the beach.
“It’s pretty well known locally (about sharks) and we have had shark sightings up and down the coast,” Raney said.
After reading about the attack on a website, Lompoc resident Andrew Dunlap drove to Surf Beach to see if it was any of the surfers he knows who frequent the beach.
Dunlap described a tight-knit group of surfers who make their way to the beach. He said his own children have asked him not to surf at the beach out of fear of sharks.
“The kids tell me don’t go surfing there, but I’ve sneaked out there a couple times,” said Dunlap, who said that it’s not unusual to see dolphins and whales in the water.
“The last four years there’s definitely been an increase in sightings or attacks,” he added.
He has never seen sharks at Surf Beach, but he said he knows of others who have and he said surfers haven’t forgotten about the 19-year-old dying two years ago.
He said the morning hours are prime for surfers.
While deputies conducted their investigation, the beach was absent of pedestrians following the shark attack.
Left near the Surf Beach memorial for the UCSB student, there was a short message for all who might visit it.
“For all those who walk upon this namesake, may God give you strength, courage, and peace. May you be inspired to make each day count.”