Del Mar closes beaches for swimming and surfing after shark bites swimmer

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The shark bit the man’s torso, left arm and hand while he was swimming about 100 yards offshore.

SAN DIEGO — Beaches in Del Mar are closed to swimmers and surfers after a shark bit a swimmer Sunday morning. 

The shark encountered a 46-year-old man at 9 a.m. on Sunday, about 100 yards offshore from the Beach Safety Center at 17th Street, according to a news release from the city. The shark bit the man’s torso, left arm and hand.

An ambulance took the victim to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. His injuries are significant, but not life-threatening, according to the city. 

The man was part of a group of about a dozen swimmers who regularly train in Del Mar, the city said.

CBS 8 spoke with Jenna Veal, who was in the water with the victim when it happened. She and the victim swim with North County Ocean Swimmers. They were two of the 18 who showed up to swim at Del Mar on Sunday. 

“Today was by all accounts a worst nightmare day where we had a full-on shark encounter in the ocean,” she said. “I want to say that it was the best case of a worst case scenario.” 

Veal said most of the group had finished swimming when she heard him calling for help. They had already reached their turnaround point and were on their way back in. 

“I’m truly astounded at his bravery and courage and strength,” she said. “Despite being completely lacerated by a shark, he had both hands in the air and was calling for help. He saved his own life first and foremost.” 

Veal turned to the shore and started yelling for help. 

She said two of the NCOS members and a surfer immediately responded.  

The surfer, who was not affiliated with the swimmers, gave his board to use as a gurney to bring the victim in. She said the ocean sent some waves to bring them back to shore. The swimmers hoisted the victim up and had him walking out of the water. 

Veal said he remained calm as people tended to his wounds. She said the swimmers carry tourniquets in the event that an emergency happens when they’re in the water. 

He stayed calm and conscious throughout the incident, she said. 

He asked her to call his wife and gave Veal her phone number. 

“He just showed an unbelievable amount of composure,” she said. “He was totally a hero today. I mean he defended his own life against a shark he punched in the face.”

Veal said he’s now recovering. 

“I’ve been in contact with his wife, and thanks to God he is stabilizing quickly,” she said. “He’s super strong. We are looking forward to visiting him and talking to him soon.”

The water will be closed to swimming and surfing through 9 a.m. Tuesday one mile in each direction from the incident: from about 6th Street to North Beach. 

Lifeguards posted signs and notified neighboring jurisdictions, following protocols developed by the California Marine Safety Chiefs Association and the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach, the city said.

Del Mar beaches were closed in November 2022 after a shark bite was reported. Del Mar lifeguards said that a female swimmer was in waist-deep water with another person when they noticed the swimmer was waving her arms, looking like she was in distress. When the lifeguards responded, they pulled the swimmer onto shore and saw that her injury was consistent with a shark bite.

Correction: This story was updated to state the incident happened about 100 yards offshore.

 Researchers identify Southern California’s two largest white shark nurseries off San Diego’s coast (Jan. 29, 2024)

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.