Matthew Garcia was surfing near to his friend, who was body boarding, when he heard a desperate cry for help.
Within seconds, a shark came out of the water, bit into his friend’s leg, and pulled him under in a cloud of blood off the coast north of Santa Barbara.
“When the shark hit him, he just said, ‘Help me, dude!’ He knew what was happening,’’ Garcia said as he recounted the attack.
As massive waves broke over his head, Garcia tried to find Lucas Ransom, 19, in the surf but couldn’t. He decided to get help, but turned around again as he was swimming to shore and saw Ransom’s red body board pop up. Garcia swam to his friend and did chest compressions as he brought him to shore.
The University of California-Santa Barbara junior, who was in Riverside County, had a harsh wound to his left leg and died a short time later on Surf Beach, the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s department said.
The beach 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is on the property of Vandenberg Air Force Base but is free to the public.
Sheriff’s deputies were able to recuperate the bodyboard, which had a 1-foot segment on the side bitten off. Authorities rapidly closed Surf Beach and two other beaches nearby for at least 72 hours.
Federal and state Fish and Game officials were functioning to identify the type of shark that attacked Ransom.
Based on its behavior and Ransom’s injury, it was most likely a great white, one shark specialist said.
The ocean was calm and stunning before the attack, with large wave sets that the friends had been tracking all week as they moved down the West Coast from Alaska, Garcia said.
The shark, which breached the water on its side, seem to be about 18 feet long, said Garcia, 20. “There was no sign, there was nothing. It was all very quick, very stealth,’’ he said.
The pair was best friends since they were on the water polo and swim teams together at Perris High School in Riverside County.
Garcia said it was the initial time either had been to that particular beach.