A San Diego woman wounded in a shark attack in late April is starting to walk as she continues her long road to recovery, her mother said in an online update.
“Leeanne is doing extremely well; she has taken about 40 steps so far, and she is working on taking more,” Christine McKnerney-Leidle, the mother of shark attack victim Leeanne Ericson, said in a message posted to her daughter’s GoFundMe web page that's raising money for her medical bills.
“We hope she will be in rehab soon and then home after that,” the post continued. “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 popular 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.