LA JOLLA (CBSLA.com) – The surgeon for a 36-year-old mother of three who was bitten by a shark last week off San Onofre State Beach told reporters Friday that she has already undergone two surgeries for what she described as a significant leg injury.
On April 29, Leeanne Ericson of Vista was in a wetsuit and fins with her boyfriend at a popular surf spot near Camp Pendleton called Church when she was bitten in the leg by a shark.
Her boyfriend brought her in to shore. Once on the beach, several Good Samaritans, including one with EMT training, provided Ericson with critical care to stop the bleeding.
“So I think that was crucial, because they were able to put a big pressure dressing on, and a partial tourniquet on, to help the bleeding, to decrease the bleeding,” Dr. Gail Tominaga said. “And so that’s the immediate problem, was the bleeding, and they were also able to put a breathing tube in to help her breathing.”
Ericson was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she underwent two surgeries. More surgeries are scheduled.
“So she’s had two surgeries to clean up the wounds because they’re not real clean from the ocean, or from the shark bite, and to control bleeding,” Tominaga said.
Tominaga described the bite as large, but would not offer specifics on the extent of the injury and its long term implications for Ericson. The family has asked for privacy regarding those details.
Ericson is awake, but is only able to use hand signals because she is on a breathing tube. Tominaga said it’s too early to determine whether she will be able to use her leg.
“It’s hard to tell at this point, but she has very healthy tissue there,” Tominaga said. “She’s not gonna have a normal lower extremity, but we’re doing everything to make it as functional as possible.”
As of Friday afternoon, nearly $70,000 were raised on a GoFundMe page for Ericson and her three children.
Following the incident last Saturday, San Onofre State Beach was closed for several days, reopening Wednesday morning.