To describe the atmosphere throughout the beach-cites of northern San Diego as surreal on the morning of April 25, 2008 would be putting it lightly. Helicopters and planes buzzing up and down the coast, the flashing lights of police cars and park rangers at the majority of beach access points, the eerie calm of the waters where the unthinkable had just taken place….this wasn’t supposed to happen here. Not San Diego. If there was ever a place where surfers could surf without even so much as thinking about the risk of a shark-attack, it was here. The last confirmed white shark attack had taken place nearly 50 years ago. That type of thing just doesn’t take place.
For reasons and circumstances we will never know, on April 25 the unimaginable did take place in Solana Beach. A great white shark had attacked and killed Dr. David Martin near a break called “Tabletops” and sent shock-waves throughout the tight-knit beach cities. For weeks it was at the forefront of everyone’s minds and all that was talked about. Whether you were in the line-up at any nearby break, at the local coffee shop, or anywhere else for that matter, people wanted to discuss the details surrounding what had happened to Dr. Martin. As time passed, the buzz surrounding the attack quieted. Dolphins were able to pass through line-ups again without a rash of shark “sightings” being reported, and surfers and beach-goers in general came back to the realization that this was just a tragic accident. San Diego wasn’t going to become the new “Smyrna Beach” with white sharks.
While the news of the Solana Beach attack passed for much of us, for the family of Dr. Martin and those close to him when it took place, something like this will probably never pass. To lose a loved one in these circumstances is something that is nearly impossible to wrap your head around. Tom Friend of ESPN recently posted an in-depth article covering the different aspects of the attack on Dr. Martin. The article was one of the most moving I have come across in some time. Many times it’s hard to know just how many people are affected by something like this, as well as what stories of courage, love, and endurance will result from people who simply refuse to let an incident like this change the way that they live their lives. The writer at ESPN did a remarkable job of capturing the side of the story that many times goes unseen, and in doing so produced an article that should not go unread.
Posted by Shaun on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 in Surfing.