On Saturday, May 9, at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, Santa Cruz surfer and shaper Ben Kelly was fatally struck by a shark while surfing near Manresa State Beach, just south of town. Suffering a severe leg injury, he was pronounced dead on the scene. He was 26-years-old.
As of now, the shark species has not been identified, but as part of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary this is an area with a very active Great White population and has a long history of encounters with the sharks.
A friend of many in the tight-knit Santa Cruz surf community, Kelly's surfboard business -- Ben Kelly Surfboards -- was increasingly becoming more and more popular with the locals and abroad.
"You dream it, I'll shape it," was Kelly's motto.
"Ben Kelly Surfboards operates under this saying of 'Created for Something Greater…' meaning that the company donates a certain percentage of profits overseas to Africa," explained Matt Almas, a client of Kelly's. "So not only was I getting sick board but I was also helping contribute to the donations overseas."
"What started as a way to fuel my own surfing passion has now become a way to stoke out my fellow surfers, and that is truly fulfilling to me. It's the way I have found to give back to others," he described on his website.
The water off of Manresa State Beach one mile south and north will be closed for the next five days.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kelly, as well as the community of Santa Cruz.