Another Beach Fatality - Surfer found Dead in Santa Cruz

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Santa Cruz -- Another surfer has been killed in the waters off California, only this time it was not because of a shark, officials said.

Authorities say 43-year-old John M. Wagner of San Diego was found dead in the water about 20 miles south of Ventura Harbor on Friday. Wagner had been surfing with friends when for some unknown reason he went underwater around 5 p.m., according to a Coast Guard official. Park rangers, with the Channel Islands National Park, later found his body. An autopsy was being conducted in Santa Barbara County.

Wagner's death comes just four days after a shark killed a 24-year-old San Francisco surfer in Mexico and a week after a triathlete was killed by a shark in San Diego County. Adrian Ruiz bled to death after being bitten on the thigh April 28 while surfing off Troncones beach west of Alcapulco. It's not clear what species was involved in the attack but Mexico's Navy and maritime authorities had spotted two great white sharks nearby during helicopter overflights. Beachgoers were being warned about the sharks' presence near the largely undeveloped oceanfront.

66-year-old David Martin was bitten across both legs by a Great White shark on April 25 and bled to death before he was brought to shore on Solana Beach.

On Saturday, a group of triathletes who trained with Martin, ventured back into the ocean where the attack occurred. Sixteen members of the Triathlon Club of San Diego held a moment of silence in the water before swimming about a mile.

One of them said getting back in the water was a step in the healing process.

Martin's was the first shark fatality in San Diego County since 1994.

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