LOS ANGELES – Matthew Garcia was surfing two feet away from his friend who was bodyboarding when he heard a desperate cry for help. Within seconds, a shark flashed out of the water, bit into his friend's leg and pulled him under in a cloud of blood off the coast north of Santa Barbara.
"When the shark hit him, he just said, 'Help me, dude!' He knew what was going on," Garcia told the AP as he recounted his friend's death. "It was really fast. You just saw a red wave and this water is blue -- as blue as it could ever be -- and it was just red, the whole wave."
As huge waves broke over his head, Garcia tried to find Lucas Ransom in the surf but couldn't.
He decided to get help, but turned around again as he was swimming to shore and saw Ransom's red bodyboard pop up. Garcia swam to his friend and did chest compressions as he brought him to shore.
The 19-year-old already appeared dead and his leg was mauled, he said.
"He was just floating in the water. I flipped him over on his back and underhooked his arms. I was pressing on his chest and doing rescue breathing in the water," Garcia said. "He was just kind of lifeless, just dead weight."
The University of California, Santa Barbara, junior had a severe wound to his left leg and died a short time later at Surf Beach, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. The beach, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is on the property of Vandenberg Air Force Base but is open to the public.
Sheriff's deputies patrolled the coastline to search for Ransom's missing leg but were only able to recover the bodyboard, which had a 1-foot segment on the side bitten off.
Federal and state Fish and Game officials were working to identify the type of shark that attacked Ransom.
The ocean was calm and beautiful before the attack, with large wave sets that the friends had been tracking all week as they moved down the West Coast from Alaska, Garcia said.
The shark, which breached the water on its side, appeared about 18 feet long, Garcia said.
"There was no sign, there was nothing. It was all very fast, very stealth," said Garcia, 20.
The pair, best friends since they were on the water polo and swim teams together at Perris High School in Riverside County, had joked the night before about the chances they would be attacked by a shark, Garcia said. It was the first time either had been to that particular beach and they planned to surf until about 11 a.m. and then go to class, he said.
"We were just in perfect water, the waves were perfect, great barrels. It was picture-perfect conditions," he said. "You hear a surfer say, 'Oh, perfect waves' -- well, the waves do not get any better than they were today."