Shark kills triathlete at Solana Beach

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. Dr. Martin had lived in Solana Beach since 1970. He is believed to be part of a group of 15 local triathletes who swam every Friday in the kelp beds off Solana Beach. Dr. Martin was bitten from the knee down on both legs.

The attack took place about 150 yards offshore and several swimmers wearing wetsuits were in a group when the shark attacked, Solana Beach lifeguard Craig Miller said. "It looks like the shark came up, bit him, and swam away," said Solana Beach Deputy Fire Chief Dismas Abelman.

Miller said two swimmers were about 20 yards ahead of the man when they heard him scream for help. They turned around and dragged him back to shore.

"And he had a huge laceration, almost severed leg from just below the kneecap down to the ankle on both legs. It was a big bite mark," said surfer Rob Blaze, who was at the scene. "We tried to go over there and help, but by that time... As soon as it happened, of course, they were already starting to get him in. And I guess, from one of the people that was out there with him, he yelled out, 'Shark,' and said he had gotten bit. And by the time we saw him, he was really, really pale. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood."

Dr. Martin was declared dead after being taken to the Fletcher Cove Park lifeguard station.

"This was almost certainly a great white shark," said Dr. Richard Rosenblatt, professor emeritus of marine biology at the Scripps Insitution of Oceanography.

Sheriff's helicopters patrolled the waters to see if the shark was still in the area.

"The chances of finding this particular shark are probably pretty slim," said Dr. Rosenblatt.

An eight mile stretch of the beach will remain closed for 72 hours. Rob Hill, a friend of Dr. Martin's and a member of the Triathlon Club of San Diego, said he was running on the beach while about nine other members were in the water when the attack took place.

"They saw him come up out of the water, scream 'shark,' flail his arms and go back under," Hill said. "The flesh was just hanging," and Martin may have bled to death before he left the water, Hill said.

Hill said club members had been meeting at the beach for at least six years and never had seen a shark.

The last fatal shark attack in California, according to data from the state Department of Fish and Game, took place in 2004, when a man skin diving for abalone was attacked by a great white shark off the coast of Mendocino County.

On Aug. 19, 2003, a woman swimmer was killed by a great white at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County on the central California coast.

The last fatal shark attack along San Diego County was off Ocean Beach in April 1994.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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