Teen surfer survives shark attack off Central Coast

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — A college student was attacked by a shark off the Central Coast of California Tuesday morning but is expected to make a full recovery.

Nick Wapner, 19, was bitten while surfing with friends near Sandspit Beach, not far from San Luis Obispo where he attends Cal Poly, the Tribune of San Luis Obispo reports.

An estimated 15-foot-long shark clamped down on both of Wapner’s legs, starting at his right ankle and then biting all the way up to his left thigh, according to the newspaper. Wapner kicked free and escaped, paddling his way back to shore, rangers at Montaña de Oro State Park said.

The teen’s wounds were serious enough to require 50 stitches, but the bites did not penetrate Wapner’s limbs and he will retain use of both legs, the Tribune reports.

Wapner was surfing with three friends at the time of the attack, but they had already nearly reached shore. When Wapner made it to the beach, they helped rush him to a hospital, where he was treated and later interviewed by the park rangers.

Park Ranger Supervisor Robert Colligan offered a potential explanation for Wapner’s escape: “It may have been kind of an exploratory bite, as sharks will sometimes do,” he told the Tribune. “The shark might have bitten, and then realized it wasn’t what it was looking for and let go.”

The Tribune published a follow-up interview with Wapner that you can read here.

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