The first photos have emerged of a Boston newlywed who was killed by a shark while paddle boarding in the Bahamas.
Lauren Erickson Van Wart, 44, was off the coast of the five-star Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort with a male relative on Monday morning when she was fatally mauled by the predator.
A lifeguard at the luxury adults-only couples resort spotted the woman in distress and rushed to help. They attempted CPR, but the attack had severely injured the woman’s right hip and upper limb, with attempts to revive her unsuccessful.
People enjoying the nearby beach are said to have heard screams as the horror unfolded, vacationer Debra DeWeese told DailyMail.com.
Grim photos and video shared afterwards showed the victim’s covered body being brought back to the beach on a gurney, before being loaded into an ambulance.
Lauren Erickson Van Wart, 44, was killed on Monday by a shark while paddle boarding in the Bahamas
The 44 year-old Boston newlywed’s paddle board is pictured floating in the Bahamas on Monday, shortly after she was fatally-mauled by a shark the day after her wedding
Mortuary services personnel transport Van Wart’s body near Sandals Royal Bahamian resort
The newlywed’s body is loaded into a van by local police after Monday’s tragedy
Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates – where Van Wart worked as a math editor – paid tribute to her dedication and commitment to students.
‘Our team is heartbroken and grieving the loss of a dear and trusted colleague and friend,’ he said.
‘Lauren was a beloved member of our math editorial team, and she infused her deep dedication to students and educators into every material she touched. Her commitment to excellence and outstanding work was driven by a higher purpose, focused on improving learning outcomes for all.
‘Our Curriculum Associates community is mourning this tragedy and extends our deepest love and support to Lauren’s wonderful husband and all of her family.’
Sergeant Desiree Ferguson with Royal Bahamian Police told reporters: ‘Shortly after 11:15 a.m. police were notified that a female visitor from Boston, Massachusetts, USA was attacked by a shark.
‘According to our initial reports, the female along, with a male relative were paddle boarding just at the rear of a resort in Western New Providence, some 3/4 miles out from the shoreline when she was bitten by the shark.
‘A lifeguard on duty who saw what was happening went out in a rescue boat, retrieved the victim, along with the male relative and brought them to safety CPR was administered to the victim.
‘However she suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body, including the right hip region and also her right upper limb.
‘Emergency Medical Services responded to this scene they thoroughly assessed the victim and they declared that she show she showed no vital signs of life.’
She added that it took a couple of hours to pull the woman in, before they took a wheelchair out to gather the man believed to be her husband.
‘I can’t imagine what the husband is going through,’ DeWeese – who was on a day pass from a cruise – added in a Facebook post.
Emergency services are seen gathered on a pier off the Sandals resort on Monday after the fatal shark mauling
Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort is a five-star complex, where rooms cost around $1,500-a-night in peak season
DeWeese noted that ‘the staff and some guests are a bit traumatized.’
A spokesman for Sandals said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of a guest while on a paddle boarding activity nearly a mile from the shore.
‘We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the guest’s family and loved ones.
‘We remain in close contact with them and are providing all support possible during this difficult time.’
It was not immediately clear what type of shark attacked the woman, although tiger sharks and bull sharks are known to live off the coast of the Bahamas.
Gavin Naylor, program director of the International Shark Attack File in Florida, said in an interview that there have been several shark-related fatalities reported in the Bahamas in the past five years.
He noted that the Bahamas has a ‘huge’ tourist population, adding that there are a lot of people in the water and a lot of visitors who want to view sharks from a fishing boat or dive with them.
‘So the sharks get acclimated, and the animals are a little bit less cautious than they otherwise might be,’ he said.
Van Wart was attacked less than a mile off the western end of New Providence island, where the capital, Nassau, is located
She was paddle boarding with a man – believed to be her husband – who was not injured, according to Police Sgt. Desiree Ferguson
Between 30 to 40 shark species live around the Bahamas, although the Caribbean reef shark, the bull shark, the tiger shark and the black tip shark have the highest bite frequency, Naylor said.
‘Usually, it’s an accidental bite. They think it’s something else,’ he said.
‘Once in a while, they’ll actually single out people, and it’s very intentional.’
Fatal shark attacks are rare, with only an average of five to six reported worldwide a year, most of them occurring in Australia, Naylor said.
Last year, there were a total of 57 unprovoked bites around the globe, the majority of them in the U.S., according to the International Shark Attack File.
Debra DeWeese, a woman visiting the resort who posted photos from the scene afterwards, told DailyMail.com that her fellow vacationers could hear the woman’s screams all the way from land
Police said a lifeguard rescued both people with a boat upon seeing what was happening, but the woman suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body and was declared dead at the scene despite CPR efforts
At least 33 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1580, with the island ranking ninth worldwide, according to the file.
The Nassau Guardian newspaper reported that authorities in the Bahamas are still searching for a German woman who went missing late last month after she was apparently attacked while diving.
Last year, a shark killed a U.S. cruise ship passenger from Pennsylvania who was snorkeling in the northern Bahamas near Green Cay.
Most shark attacks in the Caribbean occur in the Bahamas, although a rare shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin three years ago.