California officials shut down beach on Memorial Day after shark knocks surfer off his board and leaves foot-long bite mark

A surfer said that he was knocked off his board by a shark and the incident prompted officials to shut down a beach on Memorial Day.

Evan Garcia told KTTV-TV that he was surfing on Sunday at San Clemente Beach at sunset when he came face to face with a shark.

‘My mom bought me that board… and that board saved my life.’

“When that thing hit me from below, I knew right away that it was a shark. There’s people out there who have been injured by sharks. And I’m so lucky that it only got my board,” Garcia said. “It was strong enough to knock me completely into the water.”

He said that he fell into the water and looked straight at the shark. Garcia believes the shark was a juvenile measuring between 4 and 6 feet. The shark left a foot-long bite mark on his 7-foot board.

“My mom bought me that board three years ago and I’ve surfed with that board in Mexico,” he added. “I’ve surfed with that board all up and down the coast. But he made that board strong and that board saved my life.”

He says that he showed his board to a life guard and the lifeguard lieutenant sent an image of it to an expert to confirm that it was a shark. After that, officials closed San Clemente Beach for 24 hours.

“Ocean water at all City of San Clemente beaches has been closed due to confirmed aggressive shark behavior in the vicinity of T-Street Beach,” the city said. “Beaches will remain open, but water access will remain closed until 8 p.m. tonight, pending no additional shark sightings.”

While some beachgoers were disappointed about the beach ban, they tried to enjoy the day regardless. Some were even seen wading into shallow water.

“It’s Memorial Day weekend, we’ll live it up and have fun with the kids regardless and enjoy each other’s company,” said Kylie Andino to the Orange County Register.

Garcia said that despite the shark scare, he planned to fly to Hawaii next for a surf vacation.

KTTV published the video interview with Garcia on their official YouTube channel.

One report found that there had been 201 “confirmed shark incidents” reported from 1950 until 2021, but only 15 of those were fatal incidents. Another 107 involved non-fatal injuries.

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