California surfer, 26, mauled to death by shark after he hit a closed beach ignoring lockdown rules

Authorities will shut access to the water one mile north and south of the site of the incident for five days


                            California surfer, 26, mauled to death by shark after he hit a closed beach ignoring lockdown rules
(Getty Images)

A 26-year-old man, who had been surfing off a beach in Northern California, was killed in a shark attack, state park officials revealed on Saturday, May 9. California State Parks, in a statement, said that the surfer was surfing off the Manresa State Beach on the northern end of Monterey Bay about 100 yards from the shore just before 1.30 PM on May 9 when he was attacked by a shark.

Shortly after the attack, pictures of the rescue crew on the shoreline were captured by KTVU, which showed ambulance vehicles and police at the beach's parking lot. The man, who was later identified as Ben Kelly, was pronounced dead at the scene with reportedly a fatal leg injury. Kelly is well known within the Santa Cruz surfing community. His family was notified of the tragic incident. The attack reportedly occurred at a time when the beach was shut for the public in the wake of the coronavirus restrictions. 

The California State Parks website stated that Manresa State Beach is fully closed from 11 am to 5 pm daily amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly virus. The beach, during other times, is generally open to local residents, who are required to follow guidelines and continue moving. Activities like surfing, jogging, and swimming are permitted but not sitting or sunbathing.

Reports state that after the shark attack, authorities will shut access to the water one mile north and south of the site of the incident for five days. The area will be off-limits to people until Thursday, May 14. Signs have also been posted at the beach, warning beachgoers about Saturday's fatal attack.

(Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office)

"State Parks expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the victim," the statement added.

Although species of the shark is not known yet, great white sharks are often seen swimming in the region in the lead up to the summer, reports state.  Local drone photographer Eric Mailander, while talking to KRON4, said that he had counted at least 15 great white sharks while he was out on his boat on Saturday morning.  He, however, added that none were showing signs of aggressive predatory behavior at the time. Another drone photographer, Brian Stocks, said that he also took pictures of great whites swimming off the Manresa Beach on May 8.

The news shocked the residents of the area with one woman saying: "Just to think of a 26-year-old dying is horrible to me, terrifying. It makes me horribly sad,” she said. “I love the ocean and I hate for people to be scared of it.”

Local news sites have reported an increase in the number of sharks in the region, with one outlet describing the waters as a "shark park." Reports state that the incident on Saturday was the third fatal shark attack off Northern California since 1984.  

A diver was killed by a 17-foot great white shark near Kibeseliah Rock in Mendocino County in 2004. While in a similar incident in 1984, a 28-year-old man was attacked by a shark at Pigeon Point by a 16-foot great white shark.

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