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08/13/2004 Randy Fry (California) ***Fatal***

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2004.
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Diver was 10th great white fatality off California coast

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Diver was 10th great white fatality off California coast

FORT BRAGG, Calif. (AP) -- Randy Fry loved the ocean. On an August afternoon, it killed him when a shark struck suddenly, making Fry the 10th known great white fatality off the California coast.

Fry, who loved fishing and diving for abalone and spent much of his time organizing anglers and lobbying for recreational fishing, was floating on the surface above a kelp bed when he was attacked.

His friend, Cliff Zimmerman, said he thinks Fry didn't know what hit him.

"It was the most dramatic thing I ever saw in my life," Zimmerman, who was swimming alongside him, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's just not real. This monster came so fast, it happened so fast and was over so fast you think, 'How can this happen?"'

The odds of being attacked by a shark are long. Hundreds of thousands of people swim, dive or surf along the California coast. In the 54 years shark attacks have been recorded, there have been 86 attacks.

Zimmerman said Fry would get mad when there was talk about sharks attacking divers and say the odds were a hundred times greater of getting killed driving to the beach.

Friends remember Fry, 50, as a generous and gregarious man who made friends easily. He was the director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and spent hours working on everything from the size of the catch to the length of the season.

"The politics of all this just gets to you after awhile," said Bob Franko, who is the president of the Coastside Fishing Club in El Granada, in San Mateo County. "After awhile, you say, 'I just want to go fishing.' But Randy wouldn't do that. He'd stick to it."

No one is sure how many great whites are off the California coast. John McCosker, chair of aquatic biology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, estimates the number is in the hundreds.

Great whites inhabit inshore waters and are most often found in the so-called "red triangle" from Ano Nuevo Island on the San Mateo County coast to the Farallon Islands to Bodega Head in Sonoma County.

Great whites are most frequently seen in fall, when salmon begin to return to the inland rivers. Seals and sea lions feed on the salmon; sharks feed on them.

Unlike in the movies, where sharks cruise the surface with their dorsal fins sticking above the water, sharks attack from below, McCosker said, using speed and strength to immobilize prey.

Fry was killed Aug. 15 as he and Zimmerman were diving for abalone near Westport.

The shark first brushed by Zimmerman. "I yelled, 'Randy! Randy!"' Zimmerman said.

Another friend, Red Bartley, who was watching from the boat said the attack was over in seconds. "I saw the pool of blood spread across the surface of the water and I knew Randy was gone."

McCosker said the shark probably was looking to attack a sea lion on the surface.

"It was a case of mistaken identity," he said.

Zimmerman swam for his life and was pulled aboard by Bartley.

In minutes, three helicopters were at the cove, but searchers did not find Fry's headless body until Monday. On Sept. 3, a beachcomber found the head.
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California Records First Fatal Shark Attack This Year

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California Records First Fatal Shark Attack This Year
Auburn Man Attacked While Diving For Abalone

FORT BRAGG, Calif. -- California has recorded its first fatal shark attack of the year.

The Coast Guard has recovered the headless body of a diver killed Sunday off the Mendocino County coast in Northern California.

Randy Fry, of Auburn, Calif., was attacked in shallow water by a great white shark estimated to be up to 18 feet long. He had been diving for abalone with a friend.

The victim's friend said he noticed a large fish in water between them just before Fry disappeared. That fish is believed to be a great white shark, which is native to the waters where the two men were diving, reported KCRA-TV in Sacramento.

Frey's friend saw the attack and said it was over in five seconds. He said that when he saw the pool of blood spread across the surface of the water, he knew Fry had been killed.

The last fatal shark attack in California occurred in August 2003 off the central coast.

An active lobbyist for decades, Fry was a voice for divers and fishermen across the state.

Patrick Foy, of the state Department of Fish and Game, said he'll be diving in the same area Tuesday as part of group re-certification. He said what happened to Fry is rare.

"We just have to look back at the statistics and know that it is actually very rare for this to actually ever happen," Foy said.

Foy said the attack likely won't stop many divers, but it will be on their minds.

"In a situation like this, a day or two later, it certainly makes you more aware," he said.

08/13/2004 Randy Fry (California) ***Fatal***

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8/15/2004 Randy Fry 50 FATAL
Kibesillah, Mendocino County California USA Diving 4:00:00 PM 16' to 18' white shark
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Post by sharkbait »

Fatal shark attack: When the underwater hunter became the hunted

Powered by CDNN - CYBER DIVER News Network

FORT BRAGG, California (13 Sep 2004) -- For nearly 60 years, the ocean has humbled Red Bartley with equal parts fear and awe.

He was introduced to it as a boy, tailing his father on fishing trips off the San Francisco coast. He was captivated by its power and fascinated by sea life.

As an adult, fishing became Bartley's passion. Yet he always felt uncomfortable in the ocean's embrace, never wading in past his knees.

This served as the backdrop for Bartley on Aug. 15 as he stood on the deck of a 28-foot fishing boat off the Mendocino shoreline, surveying plumes of blood rushing to the ocean's surface.

A friend and longtime diver, Cliff Zimmerman, was hurriedly swimming back to the boat, which bobbed and teetered with the current.

A second diver, Randy Fry, was dead — his killer, a great white shark, having appeared and then receded suddenly into the ocean's murkiness.

The excursion had begun on a whim that warm Sunday afternoon. It ended hours later on the shore near Westport, a few miles north of Fort Bragg.

Local authorities interviewed Bartley and Zimmerman separately to corroborate their stories near the spot where Fry's body would be found the following morning.

As the day waned, Bartley began an agonizing drive back to his home in Waterford.

But first, he called Fry's mother in Auburn and told her the news — and as Bartley retold his story last week at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Modesto, the Navy veteran paused to pick his words carefully.

"I don't play the emotional game," said Bartley, recalling the conversation. "I have to give the family their privacy. But what do you say in a situation like that?"

Defending anglers' rights

Bartley, 67, and Fry, 50, were kindred spirits in defending the rights of fishermen. Bartley has been active in local and state fishing advocacy groups for more than 20 years and had known Fry for five years as the two worked for the Recreational Fishing Alliance of Northern California.

Today, Bartley said, he will be among the friends and family who scatter Fry's ashes in the legendary Mavericks surf near Half Moon Bay.

Fry's death was the 11th from a shark attack off California's coast and the first in Northern California waters since Omar Conger was killed near Pigeon Point south of San Francisco in 1984.

For Bartley, it was a harrowing experience that rekindled boyhood fears of the ocean. Throughout the three-day weekend in Fort Bragg, an annual fund-raiser and fish fry for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Bartley had turned down invitations to join Fry and other divers on abalone hunts along the ocean floor.

"My policy is to stay out of there," Bartley said. "I've seen great white sharks, and I know they feed within a half-mile of the shore 80 percent of the time."

Bartley's interest in sharks is more than passing. He said he regularly seeks out television programs about the ocean predators. He has studied their life cycles and eating habits. He has fished the ocean's depths for leopard sharks and land sharks.

According to Bartley, Fry often spoke about sharks and even joked at times that a shark would one day catch up with him. But talk like this is not unusual among veteran divers, Bartley said, and Fry had been a part of that close-knit community for nearly 30 years.

If there was an ominous sign that weekend, it came Friday as Bartley traveled west along Highway 20 in the pre-dawn haze. Alone in his 20-year-old, 1-ton Chevrolet pickup, traveling about 50 mph, Bartley crested a small ridge and plowed into a dozen cattle that had chosen that time to cross the highway.

"I didn't even have time to react," he said.

Two cows were killed, Bartley said, one nearly breaking through the truck's windshield as it flipped over the hood. The truck was totaled, and Bartley used his cellular phone to arrange a tow so he could meet his party in Fort Bragg.

Underwater hunter Randy Fry

Sunday, following the late-night fish fry, Bartley slept in. About 10:30 a.m., he joined Fry and Zimmerman at a seaside restaurant, and the trio talked about diving and politics. Zimmerman told Bartley about his new 28-foot fishing boat that he called the Dolphin, and at Fry's urging the group boarded the boat for an impromptu late-afternoon dive.

"I had my fishing pole with me; I figured I'd tag along," Bartley said.

The friends set off from the harbor and began trolling for sal-mon along Ten Mile Beach. Bartley and Fry landed lingcods.

Nearing the old lumber town of Westport, Zimmerman steered the boat inside a rocky cove that divers call the "Orca," after a famous inn on the shoreline. At about a depth of 14 feet, 150 yards offshore, the boat dropped anchor.

Bartley scanned the horizon for harbor seals, thinking they might lure sharks to the cove. He saw only one, about 200 feet from the boat, closer to shore.

Jumping into the water

Fry, wearing a distinctive olive green dive suit, was the first to jump into the water. He and Zimmerman wore no scuba tanks; the only legal way to take abalone is by free diving.

Zimmerman, in an all-black suit, stayed aboard and fiddled with his equipment. After a few minutes, he jumped into the water, but remained by the boat because his mask kept fogging.

Aboard the boat, Bartley had taken out his rod and reel and landed a black rock cod. With Zimmerman and Fry drifting into the background, Bartley held up the fish and jokingly called for their return. "I've got the meat right here," he said.

Zimmerman, back at the surface cleaning his mask, smirked. Fry was submerged a few yards away. Zimmerman dipped his mask into the water and lowered his head to suction it to his face.

As Zimmerman's face broke the water's surface, he felt a whoosh from below.

"I knew it was a shark," Zimmerman told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It almost brushed me. I saw its dorsal fin. I don't know what kind it was; all I know is, it was big. It was big enough to kill."

Zimmerman let out a piercing scream, and Bartley looked up. The divers had drifted about 110 feet from the boat, and Zimmerman immediately recognized the danger. He quickly dropped his weight belt and swam through the choppy water.

As Zimmerman rushed back to the boat, Bartley turned to find Fry. Instead, he saw a big pool of blood.

"I knew it was all over," Bartley said. "I knew immediately."

Once Zimmerman reached the boat, Bartley tried to radio the Coast Guard but the reception was poor. It didn't matter. Within minutes the blood had dissipated and Bartley knew the search for Fry would be fruitless.

"That whole process took less than five seconds," Bartley said. "The (state Department of Fish and Game) put out a bulletin the next day saying to beware of sharks in that area."

But divers often do not heed such warnings, he said.

"They're risk-takers, just like skydivers or race car drivers. They're always going to keep going back."

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Post by sharkbait »

Shark attack kills diver off Mendocino coast
His companion says fish struck suddenly
- Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Cliff Zimmerman was only three feet away from Randy Fry, his old friend and diving partner, when he heard a noise and felt the pressure of something big moving by.

It was a shark, and it came out of nowhere, it came fast, and it killed his partner.

"I heard a noise, like 'whoosh,' like a submarine, like a boat going by fast. It was a shark,'' Zimmerman said. "I knew it was a shark. It almost brushed me. I saw its dorsal fin. I don't know what kind it was; all I know is, it was big. Big. It was big enough to kill.''

The shark struck Fry, and suddenly, Zimmerman said, the water was filled with blood. "It was massive,'' Zimmerman said "I was yelling and yelling, but I knew from the amount of blood that it was fatal.

"He came in for the kill.''

It was over in an instant; no one saw the shark again, and no one saw Fry again. All this happened on Sunday afternoon, in water 15 feet to 20 feet deep, just 150 feet from the shore of a cove used by lumber schooners years ago, a place noted for abalone beds.

"It was terrible,'' Zimmerman said Monday, a day after the attack. "I almost had a heart attack myself. It could have been me.''

It was near Kibesillah Rock on the Mendocino coast just north of Fort Bragg. The sea was calm, and the weather was sunny and beautiful. Perfect for prying abalone off the rocks.

No one had ever seen a shark there before, and the Coast Guard said there had been no reports of shark attacks in that area. There have been 106 shark attacks on humans in the last 50 or so years on the California coast, 10 of them fatal, according to the Department of Fish and Game. The last fatal attack happened last year near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County when a great white shark killed a college teacher out for a morning swim. But Avila Beach is more than 350 miles south of Fort Bragg.

"I never heard of a fatality on this coast,'' said Zimmerman, who lives in Fort Bragg. "A nibble, maybe, a nip, but never nothing like this. Never a full-bore attack.''

The Coast Guard searched until dark Sunday, and on Monday morning they found a body in the ocean nearby.

Though the Mendocino County coroner still has not made a formal identification, Zimmerman is sure it was Fry. "I was right there,'' he said, "I saw it.''

Jim Martin, another diver from the nearby town of Caspar, identified the body by the wetsuit it was wearing. Fry always wore a distinct wet suit; it had his name on it. Martin knew Fry well, he said.

Zimmerman said that Fry always had a hunch about a shark. "Randy and I talked about it many times,'' Zimmerman said, "He said, 'I think a shark will get me sometime.' " It's common banter among abalone divers.

Zimmerman and Fry were old friends and old diving partners. They dived together 30 years, and they swam side by side. They understood each other well and had taken precautions, Zimmerman said. They dived off a 28-foot fishing boat and had someone watching for anything in the water, like sharks. They also kept an eye out for seals and sea lions, which are often prey for sharks. They saw nothing.

They were free diving, using wet suits, masks, fins and snorkel but no air tanks.

Randall Fry was 50, and the ocean was his life. He loved fishing and diving. It was his hobby, his passion and his career. He was the western regional director for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, a group that organized fishing people and lobbied political bodies. He brought together recreational fishers and commercial fishermen, who in the past had been bitter enemies.

"Randy was really instrumental in organizing recreational anglers,'' said Sonke Mastrup, deputy director of the Wildlife and Inland Fisheries division of the state Department of Fish and Game.

"He was a uniter,'' said Bob Franko, president of the Coastside Fishing Club, based in El Granda in San Mateo County. "He loved fishing and he loved the ocean.

"He will surely be remembered,'' Franko said, "I don't know if he can ever be replaced.''

Fry lived in the Auburn area not far from Sacramento, but his friends said he traveled most of the time on behalf of his fishing interests.

"He loved the ocean so much,'' said Franko. "It was tragic and ironic he would go this way.''

E-mail Carl Nolte at cnolte@sfchronicle.com.

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