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.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.