A beach in San Diego’s North County where a woman was attacked by a shark over the weekend will reopen Wednesday, as avid surfers itch to get back in the water.
San Onofre State Beach – located off Interstate 5 at Basilone Road and Camp Pendleton, about 3 miles south of San Clemente, California, and 58 miles north of downtown San Diego – officially reopens at 9 a.m. after being closed to the public for several days.
Already, at 6 a.m., cars were lined up waiting to get into the small parking lot. Some surfers were already in the water.
On Saturday evening, a shark attack at the beach left victim Leeanne Ericson with serious injuries. She was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla just before 6:30 p.m.
According to authorities, Ericson was camping at San Onofre State Beach with her boyfriend and the couple decided to go in the water. Ericson was swimming, while her boyfriend was surfing next to her at a well-known 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 survived the shark attack, but her mother said her road to a full recovery will be painful and lengthy.
Doctors are now starting the process of reconstructing the victim’s leg. They’re also monitoring the foam and debris in Ericson's lungs. The victim is in a medically-induced coma.
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. Check can be made payable to:
C/O Pacific Marine Credit Union
1278 Rocky Point Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Ericson.
Last year, there were an estimated 59 shark attacks across the U.S., according to data collected by scientists at the University of Florida.
Melanie Wigal was among the surfers hitting the water Wednesday at the beach. She said her group was being cautious but the attack won't stop them from catching waves.
"I've noticed that we're definitely all sticking together in a tighter pack than we did before," Wigal told NBC 7. "And there's not all that machismo vibe in the water that there usually is. Everyone is really looking out for each other right now."
Local surfers told NBC 7 that every sport comes with risks and, in the case of surfing, there are ways to minimize those risks.
"I have a philosophy," said surfer Mike Johnson. "To make yourself NOT look like the food that they eat, so I'm not a sharpboarder."