Re: Auburn Man Missing: Possible Shark Attack

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Posted by on August 27, 2004 at 02:18:43:

In Reply to: Auburn Man Missing: Possible Shark Attack posted by on August 16, 2004 at 12:22:00:

Shark attack kills local fishing advocate

Half Moon Bay Review

Local fishermen are shocked and saddened following the death of friend and fellow angler Randy Fry. The recreational fishing advocate was killed Aug. 15 in a shark attack while diving for abalone near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

Fry was a board member of the Coastside Fishing Club and Regional West Coast director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, a grassroots political organization for the sportfishing industry.

"It's been tough for a lot of us to deal with," said Bob Franko, president of the Coastside Fishing Club. "I mean how many friends do you have that were decapitated by a shark?"

Fry was described as an influential leader, a tireless champion of fishermen across the state and a well-connected man with a passion for the ocean.

One of Fry's crowning achievements was getting two local fishermen on the powerful, 14-member Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which oversees West Coast fisheries, said Tom Mattusch, a member of the Coastside Fishing Club who worked with Fry on a variety of political issues.

Although Fry, an Auburn resident, was not from the area, he was a familiar face here, Mattusch said. Mattusch added that the news of his death has hit the local fishing community especially hard.

"A lot of people just couldn't believe it had really happened. It's just too shocking, it's still difficult to comprehend, to someone like Randy," Mattusch said.

Fifty-year-old Fry disappeared while diving with a friend, Cliff Zimmerman, near Westport, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The incident reportedly occurred in about 10 feet of water, just after the two took a break for air, giving Zimmerman time to defog his mask. Minutes later, Fry dove back under the water.

Zimmerman told Coast Guard investigators that a "big fish" swam between he and Fry. Scanning the surface of the water, unable to locate his companion, Zimmerman swam back to the vessel, where another friend was waiting.

With still no sign of Fry, the men radioed the Coast Guard, kicking off a two-day, multi-agency search involving local fire officials, the California Department of Forestry and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team.

The search ended the morning of Aug. 24, when authorities used a grappling hook to pull a body from surf, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Clare Maranda.

An examination of the body in Fort Bragg showed a major bite to the upper torso area, the Coast Guard reported, a bite consistent with that of a Great White shark attack.

Though the results of the autopsy performed Aug. 18 were not available at press time, investigators are presuming the recovered body belongs to Fry. The diving suit of the bite victim matches the one Fry was wearing when he went missing.

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