North County shark attack victim ‘doing remarkably well,’ surgeon says

SAN DIEGO -- A surgeon at Scripps La Jolla Hospital updated the condition of a young Vista mother who lost much of her right leg when she was attacked by a shark last weekend at a beach near San Onofre.

Leeanne Ericson, 35, was swimming in the surf off the coast of Camp Pendleton about 6:30 p.m. Saturday when a shark tore off the back of her thigh.

READ MORE: Statement from family of Leaeanne Ericson

Dr. Gail Tominaga, a trauma surgeon at Scripps La Jolla Hospital, said she was the admitting surgeon when Ericson arrived at the emergency room on Saturday. Tominaga said Ericson was put into a medically induced coma, but she is now conscious. She cannot talk because she has a breathing tube down her throat, but she can nod to answer yes-no questions.

 

Ericson had "significant" injuries to her right buttocks and upper leg and she suffered significant blood loss, Tominaga said. She has had two surgeries so far. The first was mainly to control bleeding. The second was to clean up the wound and partially close it, Tominaga said. She faces more surgeries and long recovery, but she is doing remarkably well considering her injuries, Tominaga added.

Tominaga credited an off-duty emergency medical technician and others at the beach with saving Ericson's life by using a makeshift tourniquet and direct pressure to minimize bleeding until paramedics arrived. She said that Ericson is young and healthy, which helped her survive her massive injuries. Her leg will never be normal, but surgeons will work to make it as functional as possible, Tominaga said.

Ericson will undergo another operation in which specialists will reconstruct nerves in the wound area and repair muscles. Additional surgeries will probably follow, Tominaga said.

Tominaga also read a statement from Ericson's family thanking all the people who helped save her life, including her boyfriend, the person who called 911, a surfer her came to her aid, a Marine EMT who gave her first aid and the Scripps surgeons and staff.

The attack -- believed to have been carried out by a great white or a sevengill shark -- was only the 11th recorded in the area in the past seven decades. The most recent fatal shark attack in San Diego County was off Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach in 2008.