SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Leeanne Ericson of Vista, who was gravely injured last weekend in a San Onofre shark attack, is "doing remarkably well" following several rounds of surgery, a supervising physician said Friday.
Ericson, 35, has regained consciousness and is able to respond to questions by nodding or shaking her head, though she remains on a respirator, trauma surgeon Gail Tominaga said during a briefing at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
"She has very healthy tissue there, she's not going to have normal lower extremity, but we're going to do everything to make it as functional as possible with nerve grafting surgery in this upcoming week," Dr. Tominaga said.
Her doctor says Ericson underwent two surgeries and is only able to nod yes or no after being put into a medically induced coma. The doctor says she is awake and on pain medications.
Ericson, a single mother of three, was swimming off the coast of San Onofre Beach at Camp Pendleton about an hour before sunset last Saturday when a
shark went after her, tearing off much of her right buttocks and thigh.
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."
More than $66,000 had been donated to the victim via GoFundMe as of Friday 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.
On Friday, the family released the following statement: