ATTACK EYEWITNESS: Longtime Solana Beach Surfer Ira Opper Describes Attack

A man was fatally attacked by a shark this morning in Solana Beach. While details are still unfolding, we got this first-person account from long-time Solana Beach surfer Ira Opper, who was at the beach at the time of the attack.

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View photos from the attack.
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You know, it was my morning surf check at Pillbox. All of a sudden, somebody—I thought they said somebody had a heart attack, and they asked the public works person to remove their truck from the beach access because they were there cleaning up. All of the sudden, you hear all the sirens, they went up toward Tabletops and then eventually one of the ambulances pulled in to Fletcher Cove and then there were about three or four people in wetsuits sort of in shock. And then a girl comes running up the ramp screaming, “He’s bleeding to death! He’s bleeding to death!” The paramedic calmed her down, saying, “There’s people there, they came down from Tabletop, I’m on the radio, they’re doing everything they can.” They calmed her down. Within three to five more minutes, the lifeguards and the paramedics had the victim in the back of one of the lifeguard trucks, they brought him up to Fletcher Cove and probably for the next twenty minutes, they performed CPR. Administered whatever medicine that they do in that situation, and they continued doing CPR. Mercy Airvac landed on the beach, they came up and within 15-20 minutes of CPR, they sort of backed off. He bled to death. His whole lower body—wetsuit, legs—were shredded. I asked the Captain of the Lifeguards what he thinks happened and he said a “very, very large shark” attacked. I talked to another gentleman who was walking up the beach actually before it happened. It turned out he had walked up the beach and saw a sea lion on the beach that looked very distressed. Something you don’t see too often around here, especially on the beach.

The triathlete crew were training. They said it was outside the surf line, so it was somewhere between Tabletops and Fletcher Cove. Older guy. Looked like he was in his late 50s, fairly great shape, fairly big guy.

This was about 7:30. Right in that window. Just down for my morning surf check. It was nice and quiet and then all of a sudden all hell broke loose.

I know the lifeguards began clearing the beaches, and the State Parks started clearing the water. And then there’s lifeguards out there and helicopters and everything else.