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Fatal shark attack: Beach to remain closed at least 72 hours

The Santa Barbara County beaches at Vandenberg Air Force Base will remain closed for at least 72 hours in the interest of public safety, after a surfer died in a shark attack on Tuesday.

"The intent is to allow time for any potential hazard to leave the area," said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander at the base. "Officials from Vandenberg and Santa Barbara County are working together to reopen our beaches."

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., of nearby Orcutt, died after sustaining a massive bite to his upper torso.

Solorio was dragged onto the beach by a friend, who told authorities the water around them turned red with blood.

Paramedics attempted CPR, but Solorio was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Santa Barbara County coroner’s office said it will consult with a shark bite expert to examine both the board and the wounds on Solorio to determine what kind of shark it was.

One expert, however, said the attack had all the signs of that of a great white.

“There is no other species swimming off of the coast regularly that could possibly do that kind of damage,” said Andrew Nosal of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

He added that great whites are responsible for almost all shark attacks off the California coast. Solorio’s death marks the 13th fatal shark attack in California waters since 1950. Five of those attacks have occurred since 2003.

The latest occurred two years ago, on Oct. 22, 2010, when Lucas Ransom and a friend were bodyboarding at the same beach as Solorio and a shark appeared and pulled the 19-year-old under, ripping his left leg off at the pelvis.

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