Tomas Abraham Butterfield headed out to the Pacific Ocean in his wetsuit, fins and bodyboard around 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve. He was visiting his mother in Morro Bay last Christmas. The waters were turbulent at the spot known to locals as “the pit” just north of Morro Rock, but Butterfield was an avid outdoorsman.
Less than 45 minutes later, a surfer spotted Butterfield’s body floating in the water. He was 42 years old.
Investigators have determined that a shark bit Butterfield on multiple parts of his body, according to a San Luis Obispo County coroner’s report released March 16. shark. Butterfield was bitten on the head, right shoulder and right side of his chest, according to the autopsy report that was first reported by the San Luis Obispo Tribune earlier this week after a request for documents public.
Butterfield died minutes after the attack, according to the findings of pathologist Dr Joye Carter. His official death was listed as “complications of multiple penetrating blunt trauma”.
On the day of the attack, surfers carried Butterfield’s body from the ocean to the beach. Det. from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff. William Miller said it was clear Butterfield had been attacked by a shark when he saw the body lying on the bodyboard on the beach, according to the autopsy report.
Butterfield’s body injuries included head wounds and a large cut that exposed a “gaping wound” and extended from his back to his chest and abdomen, Carter wrote. The coroner’s report found no evidence of foul play, drugs or alcohol in Butterfield’s system at the time of his death.
Authorities returned Butterfield’s belongings to loved ones, including his torn jumpsuit and a fragment of a shark’s tooth that went to his brother, according to the report.
Butterfield is the second victim of a fatal shark attack in San Luis Obispo County in decades, according to John Ugoretz, environmental program manager for Fish and Wildlife’s marine studies division.
“Incidents with sharks are extremely rare,” Ugoretz said when reached by phone. “Since the 1950s, there have been 15 deaths in the state of California.”
Cal State Long Beach’s Shark Lab analyzed DNA samples from the incident, according to Ugoretz. No shark sightings were reported before the Christmas Eve attack.
Los Angeles Times