Irish-American surfer 'mauled to death' by shark off the coast of California

Irish-American surfer 'mauled to death' by shark off the coast of California

AN IRISH-AMERICAN surfer has been killed by a shark off the coast of California.

The man, who has been identified by the Santa Cruz County coroner's office as 26-year-old Ben Kelly was an avid surfer who designed custom-made surf boards for a living.

According to California State Parks officials, Mr Kelly was attacked while surfing 100 yards off the shore of Manresa State Beach in northern California on Saturday, May 9.

A witness flagged down a lifeguard patrolling the area who contacted the relevant authorities.

Despite the best efforts of a rescue crew and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Authorities have now closed the water 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) north and south of the attack until Thursday, May 14, as a safety precaution.

At the time of the incident, while the beach was closed swimming and surfing was allowed in the sea, provided individuals maintained physical distancing.

In the wake of the man’s shocking death, the authorities have erected signs warning that water sports are “highly discouraged” within 100 yards from the shore.  

Their statement said: “State Parks expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the victim.” 

Speaking to ABC 7 Peter Mel, Owner of Freeline Surf Shop expressed shock at Mr Kelly's death.

"This guy had so much knowledge of the ocean, he's been surfing for his entire life. He understood the area, he's been traveling all over the world, so he's one of those guys you know understood the risks. You just hope that it doesn't happen, but it wasn't anything where he was making a mistake."

The incident is just the third fatal shark attack to occur off the north Californian coast in more than 35 years.