A community is in mourning after a surfer died in a shark attack two miles south of Santa Cruz on Saturday.
The attack happened around 1:30 p.m. at Sand Dollar Beach. The victim has been identified as 26-year-old Ben Kelly, a surf board shaper in Santa Cruz.
Flowers are strewn along Sand Dollar Beach in remembrance of Kelly, as well as a piece of surfboard left near the growing memorial.
As a result of the attack, all beaches in the area one mile north and one mile south of where the attack took place will remain closed until May 14. Kelly was attacked within 100 yards of shore.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but he died on the beach.
Kelly was pursuing his passion, catching waves south of Aptos when the shark attacked. His friend, Peter Mel, said Kelly was from Orange County and had recently moved to Santa Cruz to start his own business shaping surfboards. He said Kelly traveled around the world surfing and was always giving back.
Mel said Kelly was a philanthropic young man who loved the ocean.
“He was giving half of his surfboard money at one point in his life to the Kenyans, to help in Kenya,” Mel said.
Rangers say shark attacks are extremely rare. The last known deadly attack in California was in 2012 in Santa Barbara.
However, sharks are known to be in the area where the attack occurred. One marine biologist said she saw a shark breach not far from the shore Sunday.