San Luis Obispo, Calif. – A bodyboarder in Central California was attacked by a great white shark on Christmas Eve and died within minutes, an official report has concluded.
Tomas Abraham Butterfield, 42, was bitten to the head, chest and shoulder in the Morro Bay attack and died from “complications of multiple penetrating blunt force traumatic injuries,” according to a coroner’s report, the San Luis Obispo County Tribune. reported on Tuesday.
One of the documents released to the newspaper under a public records request by The Tribune cited a report by a sheriff’s detective that a fragment of a shark’s tooth was found on his body.
According to the detective’s report, the size or age of the shark was not estimated, but the radius of a bite mark was as large as 16 inches. According to National Geographic, the average length of an adult great white shark is 15 feet.
Butterfield was attacked while bodyboarding on December 24, 2021, just north of Morro Rock. The Sacramento man was visiting his mother and brother for the holidays.
Butterfield was pulled from the waves when a surfer spotted her down in the water, still attached to her bodyboard. He died at the scene.
In the coroner’s report, a pathologist noted that Butterfield had fractures, crushed ribs and other injuries to his skull, including the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the torso and lower body to the heart.
Dr. Joy Carter said Butterfield was dead within minutes.
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A DNA sample taken during the autopsy confirmed that the injuries were those of a great white shark, according to Mike Harris of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which assisted with the investigation.
It was not clear whether the shark attacked just once or made multiple lungs.
Morro Bay is about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.
Great white sharks are involved in most shark attacks off the California coast, yet they are “extremely rare” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Since 1950, there have been 202 “shark incidents”—when a shark makes any contact with a human or human equipment such as a surfboard—in California, and 179 of them were by white sharks. Of those total incidents, 15 were fatal, and all involved white sharks.
Contribution: Jordan Mendoza, USA Today