It was a hot, sunny day. The waves off Santa Barbara were almost three feet high because of a distant Pacific storm. Surfers were having fun. Then the fun ended. One surfer started yelling. Surfers on the beach saw him swinging his arms. He went under water. Then he came back up, shouting for help.
"He was in big trouble," said one woman on shore. She called 911. He was still shouting and fighting. They could not see a shark, but they knew the surfer was being attacked by one. Again, the surfer went under. Four surfers hopped onto their boards and swam rapidly out to the surfer. By the time they got to him, he was alone. The shark had given up on the taste of the rubber wetsuit and the battle that the surfer had put up.
The 24-year-old man was groaning in pain, but he was still alive. The surfers put him on a board and paddled back to shore. "I don't think he's going to make it," said someone on the beach. "Look at that leg."
A helicopter arrived shortly afterward. Paramedics hopped out and examined the victim. They thanked the surfers and the woman for their aid, and put the man into the chopper. A hospital spokesman said an hour later that the surfer would survive—he was in fair condition. Meanwhile, because there was nothing they could do and because the waves were still good, most of the surfers were out on their boards.