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Boston Woman Killed by Shark Attack in the Bahamas

A vacationing couple suffered a deadly shark encounter while paddleboarding offshore. 

By Cassidy Ward
Tiger Shark

Sharks really aren’t the monsters we’ve made them out to be in movies like Jaws. On the silver screen, sharks are generally portrayed either as bloodthirsty hunters with nothing but death on their minds or as mindless murder machines. Their alleged motives may be different, but the result is the same. When sharks are around, you better stay out of the water.

In reality, sharks aren’t as bad as all that. If you’re looking for the most vicious killers in the oceans, then orcas are public enemy number one. Even sharks are afraid of killer whales. Sharks don’t go around hunting people down or searching for ways to ruin our summer breaks and tropical vacations. That said, they are wild animals and every now and again humans and sharks run afoul of one another in the water. One such unfortunate encounter unfolded Monday morning off the coast of Nassau, Bahamas. It isn’t a horror movie, it’s just a tragedy.

Fatal Shark Attack at Bahamian Beach Resort

Around 11:15 a.m. on Monday, December 4, a husband and wife came face to face with an unidentified species of shark just offshore of a Sandals resort hotel in western New Providence, according to a police statement shared online. Authorities originally identified the victim only as a “visitor from Boston” who was out paddleboarding with a male relative. They later identified the victim as 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart, the male relative was her husband, Ernest.

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The duo was enjoying themselves about three quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) offshore when the shark attacked, biting Van Wart on the right side of the body. A lifeguard from the resort rapidly responded to the event by boat. They recovered the injured Van Wart and her uninjured husband before taking them back to relative safety. Meanwhile, emergency personnel administered CPR, but the injuries were too severe and proved fatal. No signs of life were present, and Van Wart was pronounced dead on the scene.

Van Wart was an employee of Curriculum Associates in North Billerica, Massachusetts, where she worked as a member of the math editorial team, according to Curriculum's CEO Rob Waldron. "Lauren was a beloved member of our math editorial team, and she infused her deep dedication to students and educators into every material she touched. Her commitment to excellence and outstanding work was driven by a higher purpose, focused on improving learning outcomes for all," Waldron said, via NBC News.

So far this year there have been 79 confirmed shark attacks globally (at the time of writing), compared to 99 confirmed attacks last year. Moreover, there has been an overall downward trend over the last several years. This reduction in attacks comes alongside recent research which confirms that most shark encounters go without incident and mostly unnoticed. Still, the safest way to engage with Jaws is on TV.

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