Boston woman killed in Bahamas shark attack is named by ‘heartbroken’ loved ones

Police named the woman as 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart from Boston, Massachusetts

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 06 December 2023 17:06 GMT
Boston woman who died in Bahamas shark attack identified

A Boston woman who was killed in a shark attack in the Bahamas on Monday has been identified.

Police named the woman as 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart from Boston, Massachusetts.

It was previously reported that Van Wart died just one day after getting married or having a marriage blessing. However, her mother-in-law said the couple had been married for a number of years.

The 44-year-old had been visiting the Bahamas from Boston and was staying at Sandles Resort on Cable Beach.

Police said she was paddleboarding off the western end of New Providence Island some 3/4 miles out from the shoreline with a relative when she was bitten by a shark.

The type of shark involved in the attack was not immediately clear.

Lauren Erickson Van Wart, 44 (Facebook)

Bahamian police said the woman “suffered significant trauma to the right side of her body” in the attack. Her relative was not injured.

Both of the paddle boarders were rescued by a lifeguard in a boat but Van Wart died at the scene.

Rob Waldron, the CEO of Curriculum Associates — a company based in North Billerica, Massachusetts, that provides resources for teachers — said Van Wart was an employee there.

Mr Waldron said in a statement her colleagues were “heartbroken” over the death of a “dear and trusted colleague and friend.”

“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,” Mr Waldron said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sandles Resort said staff at the hotel were “deeply saddened” by the 44-year-old’s death.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of a guest while on a paddleboarding activity nearly a mile from the shore. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the guest’s family and loved ones. We remain in close contact with them and are providing all support possible during this difficult time,” the resort said in a statement.

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 (REUTERS)

An investigation into Van Wart’s death is ongoing.

Gavin Naylor, director of the International Shark Attack File in Florida, told the Associated Press that there are between 30 and 40 species of sharks that live in the waters around the Bahamas

He told the outlet that the Caribbean reef shark, the bull shark, the tiger shark and the black tip shark were the most likely to bite.

“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.”

The Bahamas has seen 33 unprovoked shark attacks since 1749, according to data from the International Shark Attack File.

Officials in the Bahamas are still searching for a German woman who went missing last month while diving in the region.

Shark attacks have seen a dramatic surge in 2023, with 70 unprovoked shark attack bites this year, 12 of which have been fatal. That is compared to 75 in 2022, nine of which were fatal.

On Saturday, a mother died of blood loss in Mexico after her leg was ripped off by a shark while she was trying to save her five-year-old daughter.

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