SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 42-year-old San Diego man who went missing while surfing near Pacific Beach likely drowned, and his body may have been attacked by a shark after death, a lifeguard official said Thursday.
The body was discovered in kelp at the water line north of Tourmaline Surfing Park about 3:35 a.m., about eight hours after lifeguards were alerted to a person who may have needed assistance off north Pacific Beach, according to San Diego lifeguard Lt. John Everhart and fire officials.
A lifeguard lost sight of the surfer in three-foot seas about a half-mile north of Crystal Pier, according to the Coast Guard, which aided in the search.
An unattended surfboard with a wetsuit tied around it was found about 300 yards out, according to Everhart and the Coast Guard.
"There are some unusual facts in this case -- the surfboard and the person's wetsuit were recovered out in the water well off shore," Everhart said. "So at some point this person who was in a wetsuit took their wetsuit off, tied their wetsuit around the surfboard in a very purposeful manner and then somehow they became submerged -- and we don't know the facts surrounding that."
A woman called San Diego police about 10 p.m. Wednesday and said her fiancé had not returned from an earlier surfing excursion, Everhart said.
Everhart said it had been confirmed that he was the person whose body was found on the beach. His name was withheld pending family notification, although his fiancée had been notified, the lieutenant said.
Everhart said it was thought the man had drowned.
"At this point we feel that this person became submerged somehow -- we still don't understand the circumstances of how that happened," Everhart said.
The Medical Examiner's Office reported the wounds found on the body were consistent with a shark attack, but the initial investigation indicated the attack occurred after death, according to Everhart.
"This is a very tragic situation," Everhart said. "A person lost their life yesterday."
This is the latest information. The originial story posted the night of Wednesday, May 8 is below.
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – San Diego lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard scoured the water off Tourmaline Beach, racing the setting sun, in search of a surfer missing in the water.
Witnesses say they briefly saw the man hundreds of yards off the coast, around 7:30 p.m., a half-mile north of Crystal Pier.
A lifeguard reported that he briefly spotted the man, who wasn't wearing a wet suit, sitting on his board far offshore. But seconds later there was nobody there, and the board was left bobbing on the surface.
Lifeguards later recovered a surfboard with a wetsuit tied to it, approximately 300 yards off the beach where the surfer was initially located.
The Coast Guard diverted an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and Coast Guard Cutter Haddock to assist with the search. The Coast Guard also issued an urgent marine broadcast to mariners to keep a sharp lookout for the surfer.
The San Diego Fire Department was also searching from the air in Copter-2. Lifeguards deployed two boats and a jet ski in the water, too.
Lifeguards and Coast Guard officials said they would continue the effort until about 10:00 p.m. then call off the search for the night if nothing was found. The search was expected to resume at 7 a.m. on Thursday.