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Surfer killed in shark attack died 'doing something he loved'

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr.'s board. Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Friends say the surfer killed in a shark attack earlier this week in Santa Barbara County died doing what he loved.

Officials said a great white shark, estimated at 15 to 16 feet in length, attacked the man.

Francisco Javier Solorio Jr., 39, was an avid surfer who had frequented the spot since he was a boy. He is survived by his wife and their young daughter.

“It was an absolute perfect day out there, so the family is balancing the tragedy with the fact that he was in the water doing something he loved,” friend Hilda Zacarias told the Santa Maria Times.

The beach where the attack occurred will reopen Friday.

Ralph S. Collier, a shark expert from the Shark Research Committee of Chatsworth, made the determination about the shark Wednesday after examining Solorio's body and the board he was using when the shark attacked, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Collier said he estimated the size of the shark based on the distance between teeth marks on the board.

"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."

The day before Solorio's death, the family of Lucas Ransom, a 19-year-old chemical engineering student at UC Santa Barbara, gathered at Surf Beach in his memory. He was killed by a shark on Oct. 22, 2010. They also paid tribute to Ransom, who would have graduated from the university last June, by establishing a scholarship in his honor.

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-- Steve Chawkins and Shelby Grad

Photo: Francisco Javier Solorio Jr.'s board. Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

 
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