'Tough dude' pries open shark's jaws to escape

July 02, 1991|By Knight-Ridder B

A computer engineer surfing near Davenport, Calif., was savagely attacked by a large shark, pulled underwater three times and escaped only by wrenching its mouth open and pulling his arm out.

Rescuers said they were stunned that Eric Larsen, 32, of Sunnyvale, made it to shore alive yesterday. After a struggle that left his arms and legs badly mauled, Larsen clutched his surfboard and paddled 150 yards to the beach, not only in danger of bleeding to death but unsure if the shark was in pursuit.

"I'm amazed," said Capt. David Briggs of the Davenport Fire and Rescue Squad. "That's one tough dude."

Larsen was taken to Dominican Hospital, where he underwent more than 10 hours of surgery and was listed in stable condition last night. Locals familiar with north Santa Cruz County coastal waters believe he was attacked by a great white shark.

"I heard somebody yelling, and I could see him down on the beach," said Ben Burdette, 16. "He was cut up bad."

Ben said that earlier yesterday morning, a friend surfing in the same area saw a shark about 15 feet long. The friend left the water immediately.

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