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Shark attack victim able to walk with help, doctor says

SAN DIEGO – The Vista woman who survived a shark attack at San Onofre Beach in April has had seven surgeries to repair massive injuries but remains optimistic, Dr. Gail Tominaga said during a press briefing Tuesday.

Leeanne Ericson, 35, was swimming in the surf off the coast of Camp Pendleton about 6:30 p.m. when a shark tore off the back of her thigh. She was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital where she underwent surgery and was put in a medically induced coma.

Ericson had massive injuries to her right thigh and buttocks and has had six additional plastic surgeries.

In early June, her family announced that she was able to take some steps.

“Leeanne is doing extremely well she has taken about 40 steps so far and she is working on taking more, we hope she will be in rehab soon and then home after that,” Christine Leidle posted to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the victim’s medical bills. “She is staying strong, and positive she wants to thank all of you for your support and prayers. God bless you all.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Tominaga said Ericson continues to make progress towards being discharged from the hospital.

“She has been able to get up. She has feeling to her leg, all the way down to her foot. She has been undergoing physical therapy. She is physically very strong. She has been able to take steps with both legs,” Dr. Tominaga said.

Ericson is currently walking with assistance, but her doctor expects she will eventually be able to walk on her own.

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.

More than $88,000 had been donated to the victim, who is a single mother of three, via GoFundMe as of Wednesday morning.

Ericson’s employer, Pacific Marine Credit Union, has also set up an account into which its customers can transfer money. Pacific Marine patrons can also donate in person at any of its locations, or over the phone by calling 760-631-8700.