Not Your Typical Day


I swam yesterday, as I have been doing for the past 4 months on Saturdays now, with my group of open water swimmers. There are “World class” athletes in our group, including two English Channel swimmers, and Steve Robles who swam the Catalina Channel last year. Our group yesterday included two Los Angeles County Lifeguards, a Nurse, and various others of mainly Intermediate and higher swimmers from all types of backgrounds. Our Saturday swim usually includes swimming from the Hermosa Beach Pier to the Manhattan Beach Pier, and then, for some of us, we swim back as well (total 4 miles).

As you may have heard, Steve was attacked by a rather agitated shark near the Manhattan Beach Pier. What you don’t know is that it was God who saved his life.

There are at least half a dozen reasons why that shark was there, several illegal reasons, and with a hook in its mouth, agitated, driven by the scent of blood in the water (since the fishermen had been “chumming” all week apparently) and basically in the wrong place at the wrong time for Steve.

But, and this is the amazing part, there are at least twice as many reasons why Steve is alive today, and sitting at home with a life-changing story to tell, and most likely with no permanent damage to anything on his physical body, the key reason of which can only be God. I was less than 100′ away apparently when Steve was attacked, but I was with the “Lead” group of swimmers who had left the last buoy on our way to the pier and we were BOOKING (swimming as fast and as hard as we could on the “Last leg”). We had our heads down and were completely oblivious to the fact Steve got attacked.

One of the swimmers in the lead group swam over the fishing line and thought to himself “Strange, we don’t usually find fishing lines this far from the pier”, but even he simply kept swimming since what really happened was so completely out of our scope of belief! The shark, swam under the bulk of our group, but for whatever reason, it wound up under Steve. When it saw Steve, and he saw it, the thing made a complete U-turn Steve said, and slammed into his chest on his right side.

OK, so Cheryl just found a video posted on YouTube showing the shark attack, including the fishermen on the pier who had the shark on a line. There is a shot in the sequence where the shark first breaches the water, jumps up and out of the water for the first time (on the video at least). It came up right behind me, I was the furthest swimmer out (to sea, furthest from shore) at that point. The thing came up right behind me, about 60′ away it looks like. That happens twice on the video (link below) at about 30s and again at about 54s.

Sorry, that was an interlude, because this narrative, like the events from yesterday are going to be a little bit “Freaky.”

Where was I? The thing, apparently, swam under part of our group, somehow, but when it saw Steve, he said they locked eyes for a moment, then it made its attack and grabbed him. Steve said the thing did a quick roughly 10′ U-turn and hit him like a freight train. An aggressive move, not a “random bite” as the Curator at the Roundhouse Aquarium (on the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier) had suggested. It likely knocked the wind out of Steve, he remembers staring eye to eye with that shark, less than a foot away from his face for about 2-3s.

Then, the shark was chomping and trying to tear and get a firmer grip on him (as sharks do) and he said he just reacted, and grabbed the sharks snout with his hand (or hands) and simply pried the thing off his side. It had him right under the arm pit, so it’s a wonder how he got the thing off him at all. He did though, but as he did, one of the shark’s teeth (probably an upper?) sliced his thumb as it let go of him, as he was pushing it away. That slice went through an artery and bled profusely. That’s what most of us saw when he was on the beach, was the blood all over the place from his thumb, it was pumping out.

The wounds on his chest bled also, but just not as much, they were at least an inch deep, and 6 or more inches long, as a result of Steve prying the shark loose from his torso. Imagine all that open flesh and then salt water hits it? No wonder he screamed so loud! The fear of the attack was bad enough I’m sure. Steve was pretty well scared out of his mind. Who wouldn’t be?

The group of swimmers he was with heard him screaming, the first guy from our group to get to him was only a few feet away, and Nader simply grabbed him and held him up, because Steve had stopped swimming and was screaming and yelling “I was attacked! I got bitten!”

Nader held Steve, while Mary Ellen (another swimmer in our group) looked him over. Mary Ellen is a Registered Nurse at Children’s Hospital with nearly 30 years experience. The shark was still right by them this entire time, while she and Nader started assessing the situation, and tried to figure out what to do. Sue was there by that point, she helped along with some surfers who paddled over, as well as a stand-up paddleboarder who also paddled over to get Steve up on to the paddleboard, and then they started pushing him into shore.

Those of us who were in the lead group of swimmers kept swimming because we had our heads down and were swimming about as fast and hard as we could on that last leg of our 2-mile swim as I said before. The shark was apparently out to sea at one point, where they should have cut the line. It’s about the 30s spot in the video where it comes up right behind me and then continues across the line of our group (the direction we were traveling) and runs into Steve.

In the video:

You start hearing Steve screaming about the 1:15 point. One of the guys in the video says something like “It jumped right on top of him…” That’s the actual attack. I’m pretty steamed about these people. There are numerous reports they were “Chumming” (throwing blood and smelly stuff in the water to attract game fish) and then they lied in their interview as well about using “Sardines and anchovies” for bait. Everyone knows (anyone who has fished down there) that the guys use those kinds of bait to catch Mackerel and then they chop up the Mackerel and use that for the bait on the 3″ big game fish hooks. Those are usually on steel (wire) leaders that they simply hook onto a long line (high strength monofilament or dacron) and slide down into the water.

I really don’t care if they prosecute these dudes or not, but we need the truth, because the one thing I do know is this attack was not Steve’s or anyone in the water’s fault! Steve swam out there nearly every day this past week, and the reports are that those people on the pier were chumming nearly every day. You must realize that if they catch fish, clean them on the pier and then throw the guts and other inedible parts (for humans) back in the ocean, that should be considered chum as well, and so is strictly illegal! Now we know how dangerous this situation was. There were, in addition to the open water swimmers out there of which there were probably 150 yesterday (15 in our group), likely 500 people in the water within a few hundred yards of that pier.

The stupidity of what the fishermen did is beyond comprehension.

After we got out of the water, I borrowed a cell phone from Nader’s wife, and called my wife. I asked her to get in touch with Glenda (Steve’s wife), somehow, through our church (Hope Chapel Hermosa Beach) or through Keller Williams (where Steve works) and tell Glenda what happened. She managed to get through to Glenda, and got her to the hospital where they transported Steve.

Meanwhile, after we watched them applying what first aid they could on the beach for Steve, and after Mary Ellen and I prayed for him, we all walked slowly back to the Hermosa Pier, mostly in a state of disbelief I think. After I got back there, I talked with the group for a bit and then got on my bike and pedaled home. I met my wife at the door, she said she had breakfast ready so I ate and we jumped in the car and got to the hospital. I just felt very strongly (from the Lord most likely) that I needed to be there.

As I said, there are many reasons why Steve was attacked by this shark, top of which is stupidity. However, the number of reasons he’s alive is far more than the reasons he was attacked. Thus, I conclude, God Himself arranged things so Steve would not die in this incident. The facts are that Steve swam out there nearly every day this past week (alone), putting on about 20 miles or more – even before yesterday. Secondly, he was with our group when it happened, and within 10 feet of 3 people, one of whom was a nurse, and at least one other swimmer strong enough to hold the both of them up. Next, the fish was probably somewhat tired since it had been on the fishing line fighting that long. Third, Steve’s presence of mind to grab its snout and push it off, in spite of the pain as the teeth ripped his flesh.

Next, there’s the amazing fact that the shark’s teeth didn’t penetrate his rib cage, Steve had a little extra padding (small amount of fat layer) that helped protect him too. Also, the shark hit his chest, and not his abdomen. It didn’t get an arm, where ripping of the brachial artery would certainly have killed him (he would have bled out). Same for a leg and the femoral artery (most likely anyhow). The shark could have nicked a major artery anywhere else (neck, arm, leg, etc..) even as they struggled.

It was a juevenile Great White Shark, not an adult. Any larger and the thing might have had teeth big enough to penetrate his rib cage, or its jaws could have been powerful enough to crush his ribs. The fact of the fish’s size probably helped Steve get it off as well. Keep in mind though, that this could still very easily have been fatal if the shark had simply bitten some other part of his anatomy as detailed above.

Keep in mind how close the paddleboarder was, and the fact he kept his cool and came over and jumped off his paddleboard and helped get Steve on it. Several surfers paddled over, and said the shark was still visible swimming underneath them the entire time they were trying to get Steve to shore. Was it tired? Was it done with its “Reflex” agitated behavior? Was it simply now being controlled by God Himself and kept quiet and out of the way? Who knows?

They got Steve into shore relatively quickly, within about a minute and a half it appears, and the lifeguards met them in the surf with the “Rescue board”. They quickly attended him and his wounds, and got him transported within about 10 minutes. Even though his thumb bled profusely, likely it wasn’t as bad as if the shark had gotten his wrist or something else. It could have easily let go of his side and bitten something else, why didn’t it?

All those people around, all those “Coincidences” all those other things lined up so that Steve survived this attack? The only attack ever in the South Bay of Los Angeles? I don’t believe in coincidence. I, for one, am giving all credit and all glory to God on this one for sparing the life of my friend Steve Robles.

Incidentally, one of the members of our church small group said his son was walking with his family on the strand later in the day yesterday, and a fellow who was rollerblading suddenly hit the ground behind them. He just heard a “Thud!” He turned around, the guy was down, foaming at the mouth and such, and they called 911 immediately, but the paramedics could not revive him, he was pronounced dead at the scene, right by the Manhattan Beach Pier on the Strand.

So it was not your typical day. It was not one I care to repeat either. I thank God again that He spared Steve’s life. We are continuing to pray for he and Glenda. It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks ahead I think.


5 thoughts on “Not Your Typical Day

  1. Great story.very informational.untill it got to the part about me and ourgear.let me clarify a few things foryou.yes weve hooked gws off that pierbefore.we cant help what takes our bait out there.for that reason we use all mono (plastic) leader in the 120 lb range when we fish there.6ft of mono leader and 40 lb mono main line.yes we fish for sharks and rays.theres way more sharks out there than gws.maybeyoure not familiar with thatconcept.heres a few thresher shark leopard shark soup fin shark salmon shark shovel nose shark thorn back sharks and many more.all that frequent our local piers.all are legal tocatch.using the same methods we use.n e ways the reason we use all mono leader is because all those sharks mentioned are not able to bite thru the line.but toothy sharks gws makos etc bite right thru in no more than a minute.which is why the first 20 minutes we thought we had a bigray.that 30 ft of wynch cable bottle and marlin lure is an apparent setup at trying to frame us.every one knows manhattan is a shollow bch why would we put a float on that length of cable? Obviously its gonna hit the bottom and then some.and at the end appears to be a trolling skirt for deep sea fishing not for fishing off a pier.since u seem to be an expert on our gear u should also know it could take weeks if not months for a hook to rust and loosin itself from the shark.not the next day.i wish u would do your homework before stating what u think are facts.just wondering if eric martin also told u that the shark surfaced in the wave break 5 ft from a surfer very near shore and he said dont cut it yet.we yelled and cleared thewater.eric mentioned he wanted to knowif it was a tagged shark and to hold it for a bit to see if the reciever was pickin him up.or that he said hed love to swim out bext to it for the expierance and everyone would be safe.did eric tell u where he next seen me? Cuz i was on shore as they carried mr robles out i was there as they treated him deeply concerned for his well being.why dont u ask him bout for mr robles medical bills if i had anything to give a heartbeat.i thought everyone in america had obama care tho? I got it.everyone was legally bound to buy insurance.i feel really bad for mr robles.i hope this incident doesnt stop him from returning to what heloves.long distance swimming.oh by the way that very same day at oceano dunes st bch a surfer was laying on his board when attacked by a juvinile gw 8 to 9 ft.he was thrown from his board which was bit right above his head.hewas able to make it to shore safely thank say these gws are gentle docile creatures is absurd.i dont care how many studys u do.those are wild unpredictable animals.dont forget that.u can see that story on http://www.sharkresearchcommittee/pacificjust for your info.dont qoate me tho on the web address but if u search it u will find it.once again this was a tragic accident with no intent on our side to hurt anybody.thank you for your time in reading this

  2. Hi Jason – through all your postings it’s obvious you were (and are) desperately trying to tell a story that will keep you from being arrested, fined, or sued. From your own stated timeline, we know you kept the shark on your line – and in the path of the swimmers – well before the swimmers entered the area. The swimmer’s MPH speed is fairly constant and we can all do the math. The swimmers know what time they entered the water and they also know what time they stopped at each buoy on their swim towards the Manhattan pier that morning. Based on on your timeline and the timestamp of when the shark first got on your line, this piece of evidence is going to blow holes in your story if and when this case ends up in court.

    From the video, we understand you and your friends were enjoying scaring the swimmers. Although you won’t admit that, we all understand why you can’t afford to.

    You have to live with the fact that your stupidity almost killed someone. Your over-enthusiasm for your your sport almost cost the life of another person. You can post and post and post your reasoning but we all know (including you) what the truth is. So, keep posting your story if it helps you convince yourself. God bless, have a nice life, and please try not to let your machismo kill someone in the future.

    • I can respect what youre saying and i know where youre coming from.ofcourse i love fishing just as much as the swimmers love swimming.knowing that i was involved in this tragic accident doesnt make me feel good at all.but to sit there and blatantly bash me put me down or plant fake evidence to put a case on me is wrong.if anybody is being criminal here its the ppl coming out with way out fake evidence.ppl said they seen us chumming all week? Not sure how that happened.i work monday thru friday and only fish on saturdays.that was actually our first saturday back there in over a month.we stopped fishing there becuz of the white sharks.theyre not our target.theyre a nuisance.everytime one is hooked we lose atleast $10 in gear.our main targets are thresher sharks.just for your not gonna get into a pissing match with u or anyone a grown man.we respect that pier more than anyone out there were not out there being thugs and scaring ppl.we interact with ppl out there in a very positive manner.we even set up kids pools and put a few mackeral and sardines in for kids walking by to see sum fish up close.weve never had one negative altercation with anybody.eric martin knows us real well.we speak to him for long periods of time when we see him out there.i just want ppl to stop misconstruing things and making things up to make us look evil.that wasnt our video and there were atleast 50 ppl on the pier that day during this incedent.including eric martin.can u tell me for certain u hear me? Could be anybody that was out beyond this incedent nore into what can be done to prevent sumthing like this from happening again.i think a few of the ideas the city council are considering are excelent ways of preventing this.a major one is the steel i said we dont use steel leaders but there are ppl out there who do.not that huge cable that was said to be ours.i cant believe u guys fell for that one.that just goes to show how ignorant sum ppl are to fishing but they sure want to ban it.what about the youth that live there.or anywhere else for that matter that want to go fishing instead of going out and getting into completely changed my life for the better.yeah i have a real bad past.but when i picked up a fishing pole 3 yrs ago i left all the negativity behind.all of it.i could care less about gangbanging and doin dumb things.all i looked forward to was my saturday fishing trips.think of how many kids that live near by that fish that pier.that look forward to goin fishing have been denied that no way what so ever did we intend to hurt anybody but theres a lot more ppl hurt by this than mr robles.why cant ppl stop playing the blame game and think of ways to prevent this from happening again.everybody seems so intent on putting me in jail blaming me bashing me villifying me and lying about me .whatever makes u guys sleep better at night i guess.say good night to the bad guy.

      • Yes, we hear you Jason. I don’t have much to say really at this point. The whole event was a tragedy from start to finish. It was just the wrong day to go fishing for big fish in our opinion with all those people in the water (a holiday weekend). With the GWS’s around, we figured it would be a no brainer that fishing with larger tackle would be a bad idea (it had been in the news for about 6 weeks that those juvenile GWS’s had been spotted off El Porto). Thirdly, we probably all realize this is how tragedies happen, something happens that has never happened before, or that is so uncommon, unheard of and so on.

        Dr. Lowe from the CSULB Shark Lab came and gave a lecture about 10 days after this happened. That lecture had been, oddly enough, scheduled for some time prior to this. I wrote up a quick analysis of the presentation:

        And I also followed up by sending him an email:

        Dr. Lowe replied to that email. I’m not sure whether I should post it or not, but I will say that one of his recommendations was to end the “Big Game” fishing off the piers. I think we all realize that nobody can predict what’s going to wind up on your line. It’s been many years since I fished down there on that pier, but there were times when I fished all night long down there with my buddies when I was growing up. And yes, you’re right that fishing is quite an enjoyable sport, one that we should not deny to people.

        What’s the answer? What’s the solution? I don’t know. As I have said, I’m not a legal expert. I don’t know if any of the actions in this tragedy are culpable (I doubt it) or negligent (maybe). I say again though, the only thing we do know for sure is it wasn’t Steve’s fault that he was attacked by an angry shark, and it sure wasn’t the fault of any of the swimmers or people in the water.

        How do we prevent it from happening in the future? By working together. In that regard, I thank you for responding to my original post. Please read the other blog pieces. I’ve encouraged all my swim friends to do so as well.

        One more thing. Some of Steve’s friends got together a donations page to help pay for his medical costs. It’s purely a voluntary thing, and by contributing, it would not imply any guilt on your part, or anybody’s part. It’s just a helpful thing for Steve and his wife Glenda. I think you had said how you don’t have much, well, we don’t either, for the most part. We’re all just ordinary folks, many of us struggling to make ends meet too. So, if you (or anybody) are interested:

        Steve’s a great guy, he tries real hard to do right things. Last year he swam the Catalina Channel to raise money for a school in Nicaragua. It was because of that we met. Actually, I should say we met again, because we realized we had swam on the same team as kids! Swimming really is a small world and the best thing is we care about each other.

  3. A couple addendums. More information, extended information really. Some of our friends, actually the same ones whose son was the one who saw the inline skater die on the strand, they ran into the paddle-boarder, their son did, he lives in San Diego, and the paddle-boarder is from La Jolla. Anyhow, he described how it happened and said when he got to the area where Nader was holding Steve, and he looked, all he saw was blood everywhere. The water was red. He saw the shark swimming around underneath them too. But Nader just yelled at him and said “Dude, get off your board, we need your board!” So he did.

    The surfers who paddled over to help out, one was an off-duty Paramedic, and the other an off duty Life Guard.

    And they told me that they really weren’t in to the shore in 90s, it was more like 5 minutes, we were about 200 yards out there, maybe 300. The “Rudolph” buoy, as we called it, the last of the 5 buoys set up for the swimmers, the one that is closest to the Manhattan Beach Pier, is about 100 yards further out than the end of the MB Pier. If you are out that far, swimming towards the pier, you have to cut a pretty good angle to head “In” towards the pier as you swim. The Rudolph buoy was by 7th St. this year, a bit south of 8th St. They’re never quite in the same place two years in a row, but they did have them pretty evenly spaced this year.

    The day after the attack, Cheryl and I walked down there. I was still very upset, and I didn’t really want to go out there, and I surely didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. But, we got to the end of the pier, and looked south towards where we were. I tried to stand in the exact same spot where the fisherman (Jason) would have been standing so that I could look down and see how close the swimmers would have looked. On the video, they appear (we appear) far away, but from up on top of the pier, it’s only about 400-450m to the buoy, which is very close from up there. It’s incredibly close really.

    The paddle-boarder was given an award by the City of Manhattan Beach for his bravery – which I say “Well done!” That was battle-field type bravery I told everyone. Not just anybody would have had the guts to just jump off their board into water where there was blood all over the place, and a shark swimming around underneath them. Well done indeed!

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