Rescuers in Southern California shark attack describe terrifying ordeal

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Three swimmers who helped rescue a 46-year-old man who was attacked by a shark Sunday at a Southern California beach are speaking out about the harrowing incident.  

The victim, only identified as Caleb, sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries to his chest, arms and hands in the June 2 attack 100 yards off the shore at the 17th Street Beach Safety Center in Del Mar.  

“It was kind of a blood curdling scream, you know that there’s something wrong,” Kevin Barret, one of the victim’s rescuers said of the attack.  

Barret, Cameron Whiting and Jenna Veal spoke to KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff about the moment their friend and fellow North County Ocean Swimmer was attacked from outside of a Del Mar hospital where the 46-year-old is on a long road to recovery.  

Kevin Barrett, Cameron Whiting and Jenna Veal seen on June 3, 2024, speaking to KTLA about the shark attack rescue.

“It was definitely just hearing it and then somehow he was able to put his hands up, really like the unimaginable happening before our eyes,” Veal recalled.  

The trio explained that as Caleb was swimming, the shark approached and sank its teeth into his chest. That’s when they say the 46-year-old began punching the shark and fighting back, which led to the injuries on his arms and hands.  

“The fear was twofold,” Whiting explained. “One, it’s that you’re swimming into where there was just a shark attack, but probably scarier than that was not knowing what you were going to encounter when you got there. We didn’t know the condition he was going to be in when we got to him.”  

The three swimmers got Caleb onto a surfboard. Whiting jumped on top of him and paddled to shore.  

An emergency room doctor that happened to be on the beach helped advise on what to do for Caleb’s injuries as they put a tourniquet around his arm to stop the bleeding.  

“The most important thing was just to control the bleeding and make sure he was coherent and knew where he was,” Whiting said.  

Since the attack that closed waters off the beach, technicians from the California State University, Long Beach Shark Lab are working to determine what kind of shark was involved in the attack.  

They’ve already taken a DNA swab from the victim’s wetsuit but tell KTLA they will not be able to tell if it is the same shark involved in attack in San Clemente on May 27. In that case, a surfer said he was knocked off his board by an aggressive shark.   

“So, having more information about the identity of the shark, as well as what it’s doing following the incident will help us make better management decisions for beach closures,” CSULB Shark Lab tech Zach Merson said.  

Barret, Whiting and Veal tell KTLA that they swim in groups so that they can keep eyes on one another’s safety.  

“It’s the natural world,” Barret said. “We’re a part of it. We’ll do what we can to stay safe in it.”  

Experts say that shark attacks along the Southern California coast are extremely rare, but that one theory is the shark may have been confused by the swimmer, mistaking it for something else in the murky water.  

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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.