The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its 22-hour search for a swimmer who was thought to be attacked by a shark off the coast of a remote California beach.
The Coast Guard received reports that a 52-year-old man was dragged into the water around 10.40am Sunday off the coast of Wildcat Beach in Point Reyes.
The victim, who had been attending a wedding, was described as a very good swimmer. The circumstances surrounding his death are unconfirmed.
‘We didn’t find the individual so there’s no way for us to confirm whether or not it was a shark attack,’ U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel said.
However, two other swimmers told first responders that they spotted a large pool of blood in the water and other witnesses said the victim was screaming.
A 52-year-old man was reportedly dragged into the water by shark off the coast of Wildcat Beach in Marin County
The victim was part of a group that was said to have attended a wedding and camped out in a remote area afterwards
Two other swimmers claimed to have seen a large pool of blood in the water after the man was pulled under
Samantha Edell was asked to call emergency services by the man’s friends. Her own son came running and said he heard ‘screaming’
Samantha Edell told The San Francisco Standard that her son said he heard shrieking coming from the water.
‘We came out, and a group was gathered around that area where the water is, and they were looking for someone who could call emergency services because there’s no cell service there,’ she said.
Edell, who had been camping, placed a call using her Zoleo satellite communicator, a device that extends cell phone coverage and makes emergency calls.
She said members of the group told her that their friend had been swimming.
‘They said it was a shark attack and I said “How bad is it?” and he said his friend was attacked and didn’t come back out of the water,’ Edell said.
After hitting the SOS button on her device, she followed the group down to the beach, where another man said he was already in contact with emergency services.
‘There was another man on the beach who had an iPhone that had satellite facilities. He was already in contact with emergency services, so I ended my SOS call,’ Edell said.
She learned responders were already on their way and was asked to ‘go up to the top part of the campground and to wave them down.’
A woman in the group told Edell they had just attended a wedding and had gone backpacking after the event.
‘It was a large party,’ Edell said. ‘People came in from all over, as far as Europe.’
Christine Beekman, the public information officer at Point Reyes National Seashore, said: ‘Until we have confirmation, I’m hesitant to speculate’ when asked about the man’s death
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search after 22 hours, it was reported Monday
However, other agencies including the National Park Service continue to look for the victim
The three swimmers were camping with up to 15 others at an area near the beach
Although the Coast Guard suspended its search on Monday, first responders from the National Park Service, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the Marin County Fire Department and the Stinson Beach Fire Department continue to search for the victim.
The three swimmers were camping with around 15 others at an area near the beach, which was a six to seven mile hike from the main trail.
‘In my time here, we haven’t heard of anything like this happening,’ said Fiona Ulrich, an employee of the nearby Five Brooks Horse Ranch.
‘There were many more park rangers than normal, flashing lights, a certain degree of chaos all day long.’
Christine Beekman, the public information officer at Point Reyes National Seashore, said jet skis were originally deployed from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Stenson Beach Fire Department.
There have been 210 shark attacks and incidents off the California coast since 1950, but only 15 were fatal
The search was conducted via air, land and water.
There is a thriving great white shark population at Point Reyes. The animals are most commonly seen in the late summer and fall.
‘This is, as all California waters are, shark habitat,’ Beekman explained.
About the circumstances surrounding the man’s disappearance, she said: ‘Until we have confirmation, I’m hesitant to speculate. Shark attacks are very, very, very uncommon in the area.’
There have been 210 shark attacks and incidents off the California coast since 1950, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Only 15 of them have been fatal. None of these deadly attacks happened in Marin County.
‘To my knowledge, yeah, this could be the first fatal shark attack,’ said Marin County Fire Department Senior Captain Ben Ghisletta.
‘But we’re hopeful that he’ll be found.’