The Massachusetts woman killed by a shark Monday while paddleboarding in the Bahamas has been identified by local authorities as 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart.
Royal Bahamas Police Force confirmed the information via a news release on Tuesday. According to the Daily Mail, Van Wart was a newlywed who worked as a math editor for Curriculum Associates.
“Our team is heartbroken and grieving the loss of a dear and trusted colleague and friend,” Curriculum Associates CEO Rob Waldron said in a statement sent to multiple media outlets.
“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. Our Curriculum Associates community is mourning this tragedy and extends our deepest love and support to Lauren’s wonderful husband and all of her family.”
The Royal Bahamas Police Force says 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart of Lowell, Massachusetts, was the shark bite victim in the Bahamas on Dec. 4, 2023. (Lauren Van Wart / Linkedin)
Nassau police were notified around 11:15 a.m. about a tourist who had been attacked by a shark.
Police told reporters that the woman had been paddleboarding with a male relative less than a mile off the western end of New Providence Island when she was bitten by a shark.
A lifeguard on duty observed what was happening, went out on a rescue boat and retrieved both individuals.
CPR was administered to Van Wart, but she had suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body, including the upper hip region and her right upper limb, police said.
People gather on the resort pier after what police described as a fatal shark attack against a tourist at Sandals Royal Bahamian resort, in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 4, 2023. (REUTERS/Dante Carrer)
Emergency personnel responded to the scene and assessed that she “showed no vital signs of life,” police said. The relative who she was paddleboarding with was not injured.
Gavin Naylor, program director of the International Shark Attack File in Florida, told The Associated Press that there have been a couple of shark-related fatalities reported in the Bahamas in the past five years.
He noted that the Bahamas has a “huge” tourist population, adding that there are a lot of people in the water and a lot of visitors who want to view sharks from a fishing boat or dive with them.
“So the sharks get acclimated, and the animals are a little bit less cautious than they otherwise might be,” he said.
Mortuary services personnel transport the body of a female tourist after what police described as a fatal shark attack in waters near Sandals Royal Bahamian resort, in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 4, 2023. (REUTERS/Dante Carrer)
Between 30 to 40 shark species live around the Bahamas, although the Caribbean reef shark, the bull shark, the tiger shark and the black tip shark have the highest bite frequency, Naylor said.
“Usually, it’s an accidental bite. They think it’s something else,” he said. “Once in a while, they’ll actually single out people, and it’s very intentional.”