A San Diego woman wounded in a shark attack in late April says she’s focused on healing and reuniting with her children who want to be back with their "mommy."
“My kids have visited me a few times and can’t wait for their mommy to be back home. For now, I need to focus on healing so I can get back to my family as soon as possible,” Leeanne Ericson wrote in an online post on a fundraising page established by her family to help cover her medical expenses.
As of Saturday afternoon, her GoFundMe page had raised just shy of $90,000.
Ericson said in her online post that she was grateful for the generous donations toward her recovery and for the "kind, heartfelt comments" from the community.
"I’m still currently in the hospital recovering the best I can considering the nature of my injuries. Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla has done an amazing job at helping me get my life back," she continued.
Ericson said she's not sure how much longer she will be hospitalized but she's on the path to a "successful recovery." She said she'd like to tell her story once she's in rehabilitation.
A few days ago, Ericson's mother, Christine McKnerney-Leidle, said in an online update that her daughter had started walking, taking 40 steps in the hospital.
“We hope she will be in rehab soon and then home after that,” McKnerney-Leidle's post read. “She is staying strong, and positive she wants to thank all of you for your support and prayers. God bless you all.”
On April 29, Ericson was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla after being attacked by a shark in the waters off San Onofre State Beach, near Camp Pendleton, in San Diego's North County.
The shark attack took place at San Onofre State Beach, located off Interstate 5 at Basilone Road, about 3 miles south of San Clemente, California, and 58 miles north of downtown San Diego.
The beach was closed to the public for several days following the shark attack. It reopened, but throughout May authorities issued warnings at the beach after reported shark sightings near the same area where Ericson had been attacked.
According to investigators, Ericson was camping with her boyfriend when the couple decided to go in the water on the evening of April 29. Ericson swam while her boyfriend surfed next to her at a favorite spot at the beach.
The victim’s mother, Christine McKnerney-Leidle, said the couple saw a seal in the water and Ericson’s boyfriend turned to swim out to a wave. Just then, Ericson disappeared from the water’s surface.
The woman was attacked by a shark approximately 10 feet in length who ripped through the back of Ericson’s leg, tearing out all the muscle from her knee to her hip. The shark just missed the victim’s major arteries, McKnerney-Leidle said on Facebook.
As Ericson was dragged into the water, her lungs filled with foam and debris. She was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla just before 6:30 p.m. that evening.
Ericson survived the shark attack, but her road to a full recovery will be painful and lengthy.
In early May, a trauma surgeon treating Ericson gave an update on the woman's condition, saying she was awake and able to answer questions by nodding or shaking her head. At that point, Ericson was still on a breathing tube.
The young mother suffered a significant injury to her right buttocks and upper right leg and significant blood loss, doctors said.
She has had surgeries to clean up the wounds and to control bleeding; in early May, doctors said more operations would be needed.
Doctors had also started the process of reconstructing the victim’s leg.
Ericson works for a local credit union, Pacific Marine Credit Union. The company has opened an account to collect donations to help the victim in her recovery. Donations can be made at any Pacific Marine Credit Union branch, or by mail. Checks can be made payable to:
C/O Pacific Marine Credit Union
1278 Rocky Point Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Her family also continues to run this GoFundMe page, which as of Thursday, had raised nearly $89,000.
Last year, there were an estimated 59 shark attacks across the U.S., according to data collected by scientists at the University of Florida.
On Thursday morning, authorities issued a 24-hour shark advisory at Coronado's Silver Strand State Beach after two surfers spotted a shark, possibly a great white. The shark was said to be non-aggressive and the surfers were not hurt in the encounter.