Story at a glance

  • A California surfer has been hospitalized after being bitten by a shark.
  • Eric Steinley, 38, was sitting on his surfboard waiting for waves off North Salmon Creek Beach when a shark bit down on his leg and dragged him underwater Sunday morning.
  • Steinley was transported to a local hospital where he underwent surgery on his right leg.

A California surfer has been hospitalized after being bitten by a shark on Sunday morning.

Eric Steinley, 38, was sitting on his surfboard waiting for waves off North Salmon Creek Beach when a shark bit down on his leg and dragged him underwater.

“The feeling was very heavy, like swimming with a bag of bricks on you,” Steinley told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Attempting to punch the shark and push it away, Steinley was able to get away and began to swim toward shore, alerting other surfers to the shark’s presence along the way.

“He asked me, ‘How does it look?’” fellow surfer, Jared Davis, 25, said. “I said, ‘It looks OK. Don’t look back.’ And then I told him, ‘It’s going to be OK.’”


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Once back on shore, another surfer ran up the beach’s rocky cliff to his car to call 911 while the other surfers attempted to stem the bleeding from Steinley’s leg with a torniquete made of surf leashes and a first aid kit.

First responders stabilized Steinley in an ambulance on the scene before he was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by helicopter, where he underwent extensive surgery on his right leg.

“I want to make sure everyone knows how thankful I am,” said Steinley. “It was amazing to see all these guys in wetsuits marching me up the hill.”

Doctors expect Steinley to remain in the hospital for at least a week and need additional surgeries on his leg, which may not regain full function. However, Steinley will still try to surf again once he recovers.

“Surfing is such a big part of my life and it really calms me down,” said Steinley. “But I just don’t know if I’ll get that feeling anymore sitting out there. I’ll go out again in the future and see if it’s still there.”


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Published on Oct 07, 2021