CAMP PENDLETON (CBS 8/CNS) - San Onofre State Beach reopened to the public Wednesday morning, four days after a near-fatal shark attack prompted authorities to close the stretch of ocean shoreline near the border of San Diego and Orange counties.
The beach has been closed since Saturday after Leeanne Ericson was bitten on the leg and dragged underwater around 6:30 p.m., possibly by a great white shark.
The attack prompted authorities to close the military-owned beach and adjacent San Onofre State Beach for 72 hours. Signs warning of the possible presence of sharks will remain posted in those areas for another three days, said Rich Haydon, parks superintendent for the latter beach.
Ericson was swimming in the surf off the coast of Camp Pendleton when a shark tore off the back of her thigh "from her glute to her knee," her mother, Christine McKnerney Leidle, wrote on a GoFundMe.com page set up to help with medical costs.
"She was swimming, he was surfing and I guess he heard her scream when he was on the board," said family friend Laura Smith. "He jumped and dove off the board and went looking for her and found her on the bottom and brought her up on the surf board and paddled in with her and tied the leash around her leg to try to control the bleeding until they airlifted her down to the hospital, but if it wasn't for him she wouldn't have made it. He truly save her life."
Ericson was flown to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla; the single mother of three from Vista, was hospitalized in critical condition and placed in a medically induced coma.
"She has a long (road) ahead with several surgeries to go," her mother wrote.
More than $53,000 had been donated to the victim via GoFundMe as of Wednesday morning.
Ericson's employer, Pacific Marine Credit Union, has also set up an account into which its customers can transfer money.
We are asking for the generous support and well wishes from the Southern California community to help us provide support for our co-worker in her time of need. All proceeds from the account will go directly to Leeanne and her family.
Donations can be made at any Pacific Marine Credit Union branch location, or by mail. Make checks payable to:
C/O Pacific Marine Credit Union
1278 Rocky Point Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Pacific Marine patrons can also donate over the phone by calling 760-631-8700.
Saturday's attack was only the 11th recorded in the area in the past seven decades, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The last fatal shark attack in San Diego County was off Fletcher Cove in 2008