SoCal Surfer Killed by 15-Foot Great White

Friend told authorities man was attacked by a shark

By Jonathan Lloyd, Sarah Grieco and Nicole Gonzales
|  Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012  |  Updated 10:03 PM PDT
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Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, was killed in a shark attack Tuesday off Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department confirmed.

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, was killed in a shark attack Tuesday off Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department confirmed.

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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department said the shark that killed a surfer Tuesday has been positively identified as a 15-16 foot great white shark.

Ralph Collier from the Shark Research Committee in Chatsworth, CA, made the determination Thursday after examining the body, according to the sheriff's release.

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, of Orcutt was bitten in the upper torso in the waters off Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday. He died at the scene.

A new photo of the surfboard was also released Wednesday that showed a huge shark bite on the bottom of the fboard.

A friend was surfing with Francisco Solorio Jr. when he witnessed the shark attack, said the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department.

Deputies said the friend started first aid procedures after the attack while another surfer called 911. Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department responded to the scene and Solorio was pronounced dead at the beach by paramedics.

The Orcutt, Calif. native was surfing near the Vandenberg Air Force Base but was not affiliated with the base, said officials. Three other men were also at the beach during the time of the incident.

 Lt. Erik Raney said there has been an uptick in shark sightings lately.

"I think it's pretty well known locally...that there are sharks and we've had shark sightings up and down the Santa Barbara coastline pretty frequently recently," he told NBC 7 San Diego.

Experts at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego said migration patterns may be to blame.

"In the fall, there are more juvenile great white [sharks] migrating up from Baja, going up north," said Nigella Hillgarth, Executive Director at the Birch Aquarium.

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.

Dave Martin, 66, of Solana Beach was killed in April 2008 while swimming along the coast near his home. Martin was a member of the Triathlon Club of San Diego and swam with club members every week. There have been no known fatal shark attacks in San Diego since then.

A survey of shark attacks released in 2011 shows surfers were attacked in slightly more than half of the cases globally. Swimmers and waders were the second-largest affected group, making up 38 percent.

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