A 50-year-old man was attacked by a shark at Montaña de Oro State Park while surfing Sunday, according to authorities.
State Park Ranger Supervisor Robert Colligan said a man was surfing in the area of the sand spit shortly after 11 a.m. when an 8- to 10-foot juvenile shark swam up underneath him and grazed his surfboard and right hip and thigh with its teeth.
Colligan could not confirm the name of the surfer, but witnesses at the scene confirmed the man is Kevin Swanson of Morro Bay.
Andrew Walsh, who was surfing with Swanson at the time of the attack, said the shark swam from beneath Swanson’s board and dragged him under with no warning.
“It was really radical,” he said. “I was about 10 feet from him, and it was absolutely quiet. … (The shark) came straight up out of the depths and got him and took him under the water. That was the amazing part: this big giant side of the shark just curving up out of the water.”
Walsh said Swanson was below the water for several seconds before he surfaced on his board, yelled “shark attack” and began paddling for shore.
Once he reached shore, Swanson used the leash cord from his surfboard to fashion a tourniquet for his leg where the shark bit him, Walsh said. Two doctors who had been walking on the beach helped Swanson, as well, and determined that no major arteries had been hit, Walsh said.
“We’re really blessed that he was still able to get himself to shore,” Walsh said. “I was a few feet behind him, and we grabbed him and got him out of the water, obviously, up on the sand, and very quickly these doctors where there, helping out and calling 911.”
Several local agencies responded to the call, Colligan said, including the Cayucos Fire Department, Cal Fire, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, the Coast Guard and State Parks. After being treated on scene, Swanson was taken by air ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo with injuries that were not life threatening.
Sierra Vista media representative Ron Yukelson said Swanson was in fair condition as of 3 p.m. Sunday. Swanson could not be reached for comment.
Authorities will not close the beach because of the attack, Colligan said; instead, per the county’s coastal incident management plan, State Parks will post notifications throughout the beach informing visitors of the attack.
The notifications will stay in place for five days, unless another shark sighting occurs, at which point the signs will stay up for an additional five days, Colligan said.
In the meantime, surfers and beach visitors are encouraged to use caution in the area, he said.
UPDATE 2:50 p.m. Monday: Kevin Swanson has been released from Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesperson Ron Yukelson confirmed Monday afternoon. According to Yukelson, Swanson was released earlier in the day, though he did not have the exact time.
Swanson has not responded to requests for comment.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m. Monday: Kevin Swanson's condition has been upgraded from "fair" to "good," Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center spokesman Ron Yukelson confirmed Monday. He is expected to be discharged within 24 to 48 hours.