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Fatal Shark Attack Victim Identified As Santa Cruz Surfer Ben Kelly

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- A 26-year-old surfer was killed Saturday when he was attacked by a shark while surfing at Manresa State Beach, about five miles west of Watsonville, the California Department of Parks and Recreation said.

On Saturday night, the coroner's office identified him as Ben Kelly, who is well known within the Santa Cruz surfing community.


Santa Cruz County Sheriff's personnel were called at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday to the state parks beach, about a mile south of the main parking lot. A 26-year-old man had been attacked by an "unknown shark species," State Parks said in a news release.

Kelly was pronounced dead at the scene with reportedly a fatal leg injury.

Following State Parks protocol, the water off of Manresa State Beach one mile south and north of where the surfer was attacked will be closed for five days, reopening Thursday.

Authorities said there was a narrow escape from a shark in March.

According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office the paddle boarder was in the water near 38th Avenue in March when a shark bit the board, "narrowly missing him."

Fatal shark attacks are rare along the Northern California coast despite it being a major breeding ground for the great white shark. There have been at least two other fatal shark attacks since 1984. Both involved divers.

On Sept. 15, 1985, 28-year-old Omar Conger who was attacked at Pigeon Point while Conger was diving with a friend.

Authorities said Conger was bitten from behind and pulled underwater. His friend was able to pull him to shore, but he died at short time later. It has later determined the shark involved was a 15-16 foot great white shark.

On August 15, 2004, 50-year-old Randy Fry was killed while diving for abalone near Kibeseliah Rock in Mendocino County. He was diving with a friend at the time. His body was recovered three days later. Authorities determined he had been attacked by a 17-foot great white shark.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Bay City News contributed to this report

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