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North County swimming group coping with second shark attack in two years

North County swimming group coping with second shark attack in two years
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jun 03, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A North County swimming group is coping with its second shark attack in less than two years.

A photo shows the scene Sunday morning: a 46-year-old swimmer named Caleb in the back of an ambulance after a shark attack off Del Mar.

“Scary, gut-wrenching,” said JC Constandse.

Constance, a member of the group North County Ocean Swimmers, says Caleb was new to the group and swimming with several other members when the attack unfolded.

“He was swimming, and the shark came and got him in the torso area,” said Constandse.

Constandse said Caleb fought for his life, punching the shark.

“The tooth hit him and cut his hand pretty severely, really deep. He was definitely fighting,” said Constandse.

Several fellow swimmers in the group helped bring Caleb back to shore.

Caleb was treated for major injuries to his torso, left arm and hand. Constandse has been in contact with Caleb's wife.

"Successful surgery. He’s [Caleb] doing okay. He’s stable. He’s in good spirits. They’re monitoring him for potential infections,” said Constandse.

The shark attack is the second involving a member of the swimming group in less than two years.

In November 2022, Lynn Jutronich was bitten by a shark in the leg during a morning swim, also off Del Mar.

Constansde says for Jutronich, news of this weekend's attack was overwhelming.

“She was overloaded with information, and seeing everything about the shark, made her relive it,” said Constandse.

Jutronich told me she does deal with chronic discomfort and goes to physical therapy for a severed muscle, but she says it pales in comparison to the mental aspect.

A year ago, she spoke with ABC 10News about her recovery, which includes weekly therapy sessions.

I've had a lot more anxiety and PTSD symptoms,” said Jutronich in May 2023.

The anxiety caused by the attacks is also not lost on their fellow swimmers.

“Fear of water and sharks, everybody feels that … Right now, I’m going through my head: is it worth it?” said Constandse.

It's a question Constandsde says he'll ultimately answer ‘Yes.’

One of Caleb's rescuers organized a swim in Encinitas on Tuesday.

“He said, ’I have to get in the water sooner than later, or the fear will kick in,’” said Constandse. “It’s passion, doing what we love. Have to live life and can’t live in fear.”

Constandse says Caleb, a father of three, will be transferred out of the ICU on Tuesday.