Tiger-shark attack in Mexico kills surf-loving bartender from S.F.
Jaxon Van Derbeken,Anastasia Ustinova, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Adrian Ruiz loved to surf. He tended bar in San Francisco, saving up enough each year to go on surfing trips around the world with his friends.
The 25-year-old San Francisco resident was on one of those surfing trips this week on the Pacific coast of Mexico with his friend Brant Helms when they saw a shark in the water, acquaintances said today. The two surfers joked about keeping their toes out of the water.
Ruiz was attacked, and Helms - who at first thought his friend had been joking - paddled out to save him, but the wound was too severe.
"Adrian said he knew he was going to die," said one of his friends, Bill Herrmann, his former boss and owner of the Holy Cow nightclub in the South of Market area where Ruiz tended bar until recently.
Ruiz bled to death Monday after a tiger shark ripped a 15-inch wound in his right thigh, the Guerrero state Public Safety Department said in a statement. The wound "reached from the hip to the knee, exposing the femur," the agency said.
Ruiz and Helms were staying at the Mi Casa es Tu Casa hotel in the fishing village of Troncones, about 45 minutes west of the beach resort of Ixtapa, said Julieta Altamirano, who lives at the hotel.
"We are shocked," Altamirano said. "This has never happened here before."
Ruiz was still alive when he was brought back to the beach. An ambulance was called but it took too long to reach the village, so a diner at the hotel's restaurant drove Ruiz to a naval hospital in Ixtapa. Ruiz died minutes after he arrived there, according to Mexican newspaper Despertar de la Costa.
The paper quoted experts who estimated that the shark may have weighed up to 600 pounds, and said Ruiz had been attacked about 325 yards from shore.
Two weeks ago, another tourist drowned in the area. His body, which was never found, might have attracted the shark, according to the newspaper.
Herrmann said Ruiz worked for him for three years before recently going to work at other bars, including the Blue Light and Nova.
"He was a great guy - he put a smile on a lot of people's faces," Herrmann said. "He surfed a lot of the year. When he could, he would go on a trip."
At the Blue Light, Ruiz was remembered as a "classic bartender."
Jeff Jordan, one of the owners of the Blue Light, said, "He had a lot of people who are really close to him."
Ruiz worked two years at Nova Bar and Restaurant in San Francisco. "I nicknamed him Smiley," said Elliot Feldman, co-owner of Nova. "He was one of those guys, every picture shows him with a grin or a smile. He was always happy.
"He was just one of those laid-back, really nice, fun-loving, adventure-loving guys. He lived a good life."
Feldman said some customers asked for Ruiz by name to serve as their bartender and would leave if he was not working. "Everyone who met him, loved him," he said.
Ruiz "basically bartended to save money to go to Bali and went around the world to surf," Feldman said. "Whenever he got back from one trip, he started planning the next one."http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... .DTL&tsp=1