Shark Attack Was So Brutal It Lost a Tooth

Great white carried out fatal Dec. 24 assault on Tomas Butterfield in Morro Bay, Calif.
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2022 10:35 AM CDT
Shark Attack Was So Brutal It Lost a Tooth
A sign advises about a shark attack on Dec. 24, 2021, in Morro Bay, Calif.   (David Middlecamp/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via AP, File)

A California bodyboarder killed on Christmas Eve met a great white shark, who left huge bite marks and a tooth behind, according to an autopsy report. Tomas Abraham Butterfield, 42, of Sacramento left his mother's home in Morro Bay, which he was visiting for the holidays, to head to a surf area around 10am, reports San Luis Obispo County's Tribune. A surfer found his body suspended underwater, still connected to his bodyboard, less than 45 minutes later. Pathologist Dr. Joye Carter found he had skull fractures, a gaping abdominal cavity, crushed ribs, and injuries to a large vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart, in addition to bite marks to his head, chest, and shoulder.

Butterfield would've died within "minutes" of "complications of multiple penetrating blunt force traumatic injuries," according to the report written by Detective William Miller of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office. Bite marks "in at least two distinct arcs" on the right side of his chest indicated the shark—which a DNA sample confirmed to be a great white—reset its grip on the victim or else attacked multiple times, per the Tribune. The shark's size is unclear. The "bite radius measured about 16 inches, but this did not seem to be large enough to be consistent with the size and spacing of what appeared to be individual teeth marks," Miller wrote.

He added that a piece of a shark tooth, found between Butterfield's back and his wetsuit, was turned over to Butterfield's brother "at his request." Butterfield was "extremely close" to brother Ben Butterfield of Sanger, who went searching for his sibling near "the Pit" area of Morro Strand State Beach after arriving in Morro Bay for a family gathering, the Tribune previously reported. Ben and his mother ultimately came across a crowd of people, including emergency personnel, and "thought the worst, and it was the worst, obviously," uncle Grant Butterfield told the outlet. He added he hoped his nephew had met "the biggest [expletive] thing in the ocean" and "didn't even know" what hit him. (More shark attack stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.