Surfer Dies in Shark Attack Off Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County

The death comes two years after a 19-year-old college student was killed in a shark attack off Surf Beach

A 39-year-old man surfing off Surf Beach near Lompoc was pronounced dead Tuesday after he was pulled from the water suffering from an apparent shark attack.

A friend pulled the victim onto the sand and started CPR while another surfer called 911. The victim was pronounced dead at the beach, which is about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara on Vandenberg Air Force Base (map).

The victim was identified as Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of nearby Orcutt.

An initial investigation said he was "bitten by the shark in the upper torso area," according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Solorio was not affiliated with the military base, according to a press release from Vandenberg, which initially said the victim was 38 years old.

Solorio's fatal injury appeared to be a shark bite, and his surf board had "visible signs of bite marks," according to Lt. Erik Raney of the sheriff’s department's Santa Maria station.

The sheriff's department did not have details regarding the type of shark involved in the attack but had contacted an expert to confirm the injury, the Vandenberg release stated.

The Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department responded to the 911 call at about 11 a.m. Three other males were at the beach at the time of the attack, the sheriff's department said.


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In October 2010, a 19-year-old college student was killed in a shark attack off Surf Beach. Lucas Ransom was bodyboarding when he disappeared under the water about 100 yards off shore.

In 2008, a shark bit a surfer's board in the waters off the beach, one of three on the Air Force base.

Surf Beach was closed until further notice Tuesday and base officials were asking the public to avoid the area "due to safety considerations."

"We've had shark sightings up and down the Santa Barbara coastline pretty frequently recently," Raney told the Associated Press.

One shark expert says, despite decades of study, shark behavior is a mystery.

"When we do see attacks like this, they typically occur at more remote sites. Places where there aren't a lot of people at the beach. Why that is, we're not sure ... but we suspect that sharks avoid areas where there are high densities of people," said Dr. Christopher Lowe, of Cal State Long Beach.

Still, Lowe says humans seldom fall victim to fatal shark attacks.

"Your chances of dying in a fatal car crash driving to the beach to go surfing, so overwhelm the probability of you actually encountering a shark in the wild, that it becomes almost crazy to worry about," Lowe said.

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