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US ‘newlywed’ killed by shark

Mortuary services personnel transport the body of a female tourist after what police described as a fatal shark attack in waters near Sandals Royal Bahamian resort yesterday.  Photo: Dante Carrer

Mortuary services personnel transport the body of a female tourist after what police described as a fatal shark attack in waters near Sandals Royal Bahamian resort yesterday. Photo: Dante Carrer

UPDATE: The shark attack victim has been identified by police as 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart of Massachusetts.

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THE SCENE at the resort pier after what police described as a fatal shark attack against a tourist at Sandals Royal Bahamian resort yesterday. Photos: Dante Carrer

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

A SHARK attack that killed a 44-year-old American woman yesterday was likely the result of an “accidental bite,” a shark expert said yesterday.

“It appears that this was an investigative bite of an animal that would feed on animals of the size of a paddle board on the surface,” Cristina Zenato said after a Sandals guest was bitten while paddleboarding in waters near the resort.

A jet ski operator who is said to have witnessed the attack claimed the victim had just married on Sunday.

He said he saw the couple laughing and talking moments before the tragedy.

He said the husband started screaming. He believes the shark bumped the victim off the paddle board.

Ms Zenato speculated that a tiger shark attacked the woman, though she emphasised she didn’t have all the information.

 She said “unless there are things going on that we’re not aware of”, the incident should not cause alarm.

 “As someone who works with sharks, it’s a small risk,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, and I feel extremely heartbroken for this couple and for this lady and husband and for us in The Bahamas because it’s never a positive event, but again, it’s very, very rare, and the best thing we can do is try not to come up with reasons why or anything.”

 “But at the end of the day, it sounds like what I call an accidental bite.”

  Police Sergeant Desiree Ferguson, from the RBPF’s Public Affairs and Communications Department, said police were notified of the incident shortly after 11am.

 The woman, said to be from Boston, Massachusetts, was reportedly with a male relative nearly a mile from the shoreline when the shark attacked her.

 “A lifeguard on duty who observed what was happening went out on a rescue boat, retrieved the victim along with a male relative and brought them to safety,” she said. “CPR was administered to the victim. However, she suffered injuries to the right side of her body, including the right hip region and also her right upper limb.”

 EMS later pronounced the woman dead.

 “We remain in close contact with them and are providing all support possible during this difficult time,” Sandals said in a statement yesterday. 

 The Bahamas has had several shark attacks this year.

 Last month, a German tourist went missing after a shark attacked her in waters near West End, Grand Bahama.

 In August, police found the body of a man floating at Saunders Beach with injuries they said were consistent with a shark attack.

  In June, an American woman was attacked by a shark in waters south of Taino Beach, Grand Bahama. She was taken to the Rand Memorial Hospital, where she was said to be in serious condition. 

Comments

Sickened 2 months, 3 weeks ago

OMG! Can't imagine being a witness to something like that. Just horrible!

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ScubaSteve 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm sure it was a Tiger shark. So awful and sad.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Is this unsual, I cant remember a time when there were so many shark attacks near shore. If she was indeed just married, cant even begin to understand that. The happiest week of your life and the earth is just shaken underneath you

I dont get our reporters' trend to not list facts. She was swimming near Sandals it's a fact. The intl news will certainly report it, they wont say "an island said to be located in the caribbean allegedly on beach"

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

As one has been swimming in the colony's shark infested sea waters from my early childhood. ---- Don't remember ever seeing a warning sign. --- "SHARKS" Also Swim These Sea Waters -- And are therefore considered to be dangerous).** --- Yes?

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The time has come to cull sharks ....... Have a month of shark hunting like the alligator & python hunts in Louisiana & Florida.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hmmm... I get it but it sounds like Salem witch trial on sharks. its possible this could be the work of a single shark thats found a new food source. Maybe its injured.

A better approach might be people education. There's a man that I always see cleaning fish at the Prince Charles/East Bay ramp, that needs to stop. I saw a large stingray swimming right on shore in the area, maybe 1-2ft from the seawall, again I dont know if thats usual or not. But you cant clean fish where people swim, its literally baiting the water. Which leaves an open question for Montagu, Potters Cay and Arawak Cay practices. We need to start doing things with sense.

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@Sheeprunner12, let's go sea water deeper. --- What of tourists swimming with sharks --- Yes?

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bahamianson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Again!! What, is this like the 5th attack in the Bahamas.

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ScubaSteve 2 months, 2 weeks ago

@sheeprunner12... what you are suggesting is absolutely insane, uneducated, and to some degree -- already happening. As humans, we slaughter millions and millions of sharks worldwide every single year, which is a appalling. The last time I checked, the sharks live in the ocean. It is their home -- not ours.

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stillwaters 2 months, 2 weeks ago

So, who takes responsibility for multiple tourists lately dying in this fashion? Why aren't huge signs and warnings posted on the beaches near these hotels? Or even advisories given to guests upon arrival to the property? We can just continue to say 'too bad' when these tragedies occur. We need to safeguard our number one industry better than this, Bahamians!!!

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stillwaters 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Correction......cannot continue to say.....

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ScubaSteve 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Ohhhhh please! Posting a sign won't help or prevent something like this from happening. Also, if a tourist "needs" a sign to let them know there might be sharks in the water... then they are freaking idiots. Anyone with at least a 5th grade education or higher should already know that sharks live in the ocean and are a perfectly normal part of the ocean. If there are folks out there that don't already know this fact -- well then that is Darwinism working at its finest. Time to thin the heard!!

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M0J0 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I blame the life gaurd on duty, from they say them going out that far, should have asked them to stay in the safe zone that most all hotels have outline in the water.

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themessenger 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Thats right stupid, persecute the lifeguard! Once you go beyond the established swim lines you are no longer the lifeguard's responsibility, further, he/she has no authority to prevent any adult from venturing further offshore, that's their choice. The Bahamas isn't the only country in the world that there are shark attacks. There were 259 recorded shark attacks off the Florida coast between 2012 & 2021, New Smyrna Beach being the worst area, don't forget Australia and south Africa either.

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TalRussell 2 months, 2 weeks ago

@Comrades, I goin' get real. --- Shark behavior are 'no respecters' of ---'The Established Swim Lines.'--- Yes?

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bahamianson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Doesn't help that we have companies feeding sharks , either. Need to stop dive companies from feeding sharks. Are you encouraged to feed bears in the united states? I think you are discouraged from feeding them because they equate humans with food.

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becks 2 months, 2 weeks ago

If you have verifiable scientific proof that the shark-feeding companies activities are the cause of this womans death you should provide it. Otherwise you are just wasting space promoting your opinion which is not proof of anything.

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bahamianson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Boats go to exuma to feed the pigs. As soon as the boat pulls up , guess what happens ? The pigs show up for food provided by humans. In the united states hey advise against feeding bears because it associates food with humans. You may not have enough common sense to grasp the idea that if you feed sharks , they will associate humans with food. If you thi k that marine biologists around the world understand shark behavior, you are out to lunch. And guess what, I happen to be one.

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becks 2 months, 2 weeks ago

You’re a marine biologist? Bull!! Your juvenile and simplistic attempt to use the Exuma pigs or the advice not to feed bears as some sort of proof to back up your idea just proves that not only are you not a marine biologist but you even lack the ability to critically think or connect the dots. Go back to school child.

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DreamerX 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I think we found who feeding these sharks...

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I believe baiting does have a correlation. When people go into a controlled environment for a shark dive they are told to keep very still, no sudden movements, their behaviour makes the dive safe... well somewhat. A "regular" swimmer having a surprise encounter with a shark who associates (or not) people with food will act erratically. I think if a grouper touched me in the water I'd freak out.That frantic movement would trigger the shark to react. That's as much as I learn from teewee.

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hrysippus 2 months, 2 weeks ago

My 2 cents worth; I spent a couple of decades scuba diving around the Bahamas, thank you Frannie Ballard. We used to anchor in 70ft just off The Wall about a mile out, after dark on a moonlit night, and drop over the side, swim down following the anchor line, and spend 30 minutes or so admiring all the corals that flower at night. Now? I too scared to go swimming offa Cabbage. Age? Maybe, I don't know.

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killemwitdakno 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Second bride gone this way recently right? Take them off the protected list, at least when shallow enough.

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DiverBelow 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Competition always has a darker side. As the human population increases the demands on local marine resources, i.e.: shortage of fish to eat, add to that poor management of human behaviors, multiple feeding-experience like cleaning statiions, feeding-dive excursions where an easy snack becomes routine = competition. Ask hungry humans to behave civil at a free-food give away... good luck. Even the gentil swimming-with-pigs experience can get aggressive due to competition (corporate & nature). Like all animals, us including, competition for sex & food becomes foremost. If you are to cull shark population, you must do same for the human population; they were here first!

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