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ricki 02-03-2010 08:27 PM

Fatal shark attack
There has been an awful accident involving a well liked kiteboarder in Martin County. My sincere regrets go out to his family and friends for his loss. It is a tight community up there and this has to hit very hard.

A well experienced kiteboarder was attacked off Hutchenson Island at about 4:15 pm today. He was reportedly in the water off his board about 1/4 mile offshore and seen to be swimming into shore in an unguarded area. A commotion was seen in the water around the kiter and what may have been bull sharks attacked the kiter. A lifeguard responded and paddled out to the man who had suffered several bites. Sharks were reportedly still circling the man. He was brought back to the beach and first aid administered. He was taken to a nearby hospital about a mile away. Despite rapid medical care he passed away in hospital. Spinner sharks have been migrating through the area in large quantities in recent weeks however less common and more aggressive bull sharks may have been responsible for this grievous attack.

This is the first fatal shark attack that I have heard of on a kiteboarder worldwide. There have been six other attacks that I have heard of that usually were "minor" in nature over the last ten years worldwide.

Additional information:

I normally don't like to include names but it is in the news already and friends from other areas may want to know. Steve Schafer was the kiter who passed away. Rest in peace Steve.

bayflite 02-03-2010 09:18 PM

so awful.
r.i.p. brother
condolences to the family.

ricki 02-03-2010 09:59 PM

This was posted on kiteforum


Originally Posted by mariner
Steve Schafer RIP

Exact details unknown - sharks have been abundant - no one else out [on water] at the time - kite went down - Guards stated he was swimming towards kite - then not swimming - water discolored - Guard scrambled paddle board - he was conscious to beach apparently; blood loss, CPR [failed] - passed either in-route or at hospital...
Local community is REALLY stunned & down - he was the last person anyone would have wanted to see go...
miss you already, so sad...

ricki 02-04-2010 03:50 AM
Steve during a 2007 kiting session, Photos by Chris Shultz

More about Steve, a very experienced and well rounded waterman, some have said near world class surfer, from a close friend of 25 years in a video interview:

"STUART — A 38-year-old kiteboard surfer attacked by sharks Wednesday afternoon has died from his injuries, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

It was Martin County’s first fatal shark attack, according to records going back to 1882.

About 4 p.m., a lifeguard was looking through his binoculars and saw Stephen Howard Schafer, 38, of Stuart, in distress about a quarter of a mile off shore from an unguarded beach just south of Stuart Beach, officials said."
Continued at:

The Kite House 02-04-2010 07:32 AM

Man, that sucks....i really wish his family the best.

Did anyone hear if bait fish where running? Really a shame to hear this, want to try to understand why it happened. I have been bit by sharks and cuda both spearing and kiting. Things can go bad fast and bull sharks are the grumpiest fish i have ever met.

Again my condolences to the family.

FL_Kiteboarder 02-04-2010 07:43 AM

Initial local tv news coverage

More local tv news coverage of this horrible incident.

ABC NEWS coverage

Brief mention this morning from NBC NEWS

Related coverage -

Stuart man dies from shark attack near Stuart Beach
Article contains many shark stats for FL and Treasure Coast.

Young great white sharks possible culprit in fatal Stuart shark attack, researcher says


BigR 02-04-2010 07:55 AM

I've kited bathtub reef just south of where the attack happened, there are alotta fish on that reef. It sucks that he got attacked.
Condolences to his family

C. Moore 02-04-2010 10:05 AM

My heart goes out to his family and friends. RIP Steve.

ricki 02-04-2010 10:11 AM

Hopefully in time more information may come out to help us understand why this happened. Surfer and swimmer shark attacks are vastly more common than those involving kiters. While we're above the water and planning we seem to be different but once we're off the board and in the water, we become more similar in aspect.

I understand the water has been particularly cool off Hutchinson Island. The shark migration is going as it normally does, independent of other major bait fish migrations. At the same time, there are a lot of fish available to the sharks, blue runners, whitefish, pompano, etc.. I understand the whitefish are even running into the ICW from the beach areas. Spinner sharks by nature prey on fish and aren't known to actively go after humans. This may be as much by our relative large size as anything else. Larger sharks, such as bulls may have been involved as one report suggests. Despite there being very large numbers of spinner sharks in the migration, there are also quantities of bull, lemon and hammerhead sharks in the area as well. The larger sharks feed on the smaller spinner sharks.

neil xrated 02-04-2010 10:31 AM

This is a very sad time. Not quite sure what to say, but sincere condolences to Steve's family and friends. If there is anything I can do to help during this terrible time please let me know. RIP. Neil

windrad 02-04-2010 10:48 AM

My condolences to the family. Antonio

amber 02-04-2010 12:39 PM

What a tragedy. One of the best things that people can learn from this is in regards to traditional feeding patterns of sharks. Sharks are crepuscular feeders (dawn and dusk) and as an apex predator, they run the show at that time. I know that a lot of the guys around here are always trying to squeeze in a dusk session after work or whatever. Don't go out by yourself. Be aware.

I cannot imagine what his family is going through. As many times I've heard people joke around that they'd like to die doing what they love, kiting, I don't think we ever accepted the reality that it could happen.

Stay safe.

greg meintjes 02-04-2010 12:49 PM

shark attack
A very sad day, my condolences to his family and friends and a thank you to the lifeguard that went out and tried to save Steve.

Greg Meintjes

Gebi 02-04-2010 12:54 PM

My condolences to Steve's family. We wish them fortitude in these tough times and hope they can focus on sharing the best part of Steve's life with those that loved and befriended him.

Steve is already missed on land and sessioning with the local Hutchinson Island crew on the water.

Steve rode at a very high level and brought stoke to every session we shared. Its a sad story...

We miss you buddy


ricki 02-04-2010 01:02 PM

Some information is still coming in. The accident didn't happen at Bathtub Reef but a couple of miles north almost due east of the Causeway on to the south end of Hutchinson Island at the public beach. I understand quite a few riders were off Ft. Pierce Inlet to the north, mainly on 9 m kites in fairly steady 15 to 25 mph conditions from the N to NNW. Looking north from Jupiter on the livecam, the sky was clear as was the case on radar around 4 pm. So, there is nothing to suggest weather was involved in putting his kite on the water, i.e. stalled in an offshore wind shift. Some of us may have seen Steve at the Jupiter event on Saturday. He was shooting pictures and playing around with SUP gear.

New information:

"MARTIN COUNTY, FL-- A man encircled by several sharks was pulled from the water Wednesday afternoon off Stuart Beach.

Lifeguard Daniel Lund noticed 38-year old Stephen Schafer, who was apparently kite boarding, in trouble about a quarter-mile offshore.

When the lifeguard paddled out to him on his rescue board, there was blood in the water and Schafer was screaming that he'd been bitten by a shark.

Lund put Schafer on his rescue board and returned to shore.

He had what appeared to be an 8 inch to 10 inch shark bite on his right thigh, and investigators saw "numerous teeth marks" on his backside.

During the trip back to shore, Schafer was talking to Lund though "eventually stopped," according to a report from the Martin County Sheriff's Office.

Schafer later died at Martin Memorial Medical Center.

Several thousands of sharks have been spotted just off shore because of migration.

Several Palm Beach County beaches were closed due to shark sightings last week.

Including Wednesday’s fatal attack, there have been about 14 deaths in Florida attributed to sharks, according to records provided by University of Florida Museum of Natural History."

GenetrixUS 02-04-2010 01:37 PM

He looks like a well season rider. What happened before the shark attack? Hard to know.

Our condolence this his family and friends.

patrickrynne 02-04-2010 02:55 PM

I didn't know Steve, but hearing the comments from those who did, he sounds like the kind of guy I would have wanted to be friends with.

As they say....he went out with his boots on.

my condolences to his friends and family


damion_dark 02-04-2010 03:04 PM

I feel very sorry for him and his family. He seemed like a nice guy. I have 3 kites for about 4 years now and still haven't learned how to kite surf because of my fear of sharks. I just cant stop thinking about what is in the water. I did however buy a diving knife kit that I can strap to he back of my arm with rubber belts and I can grab the knife whenever I need to. I feel just a bit safer but would like to get a second smaller one I can put on my knee. It was on amazon for like 10$. Even still I am still afraid of sharks. I wish I just knew how to surf so I can stay up on the board and know how to relaunch quickly. Hopefully his family does well.

ricki 02-04-2010 03:40 PM

A memorial for Steve Schafer will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5 at Stuart Beach. More at:

For folks that would like to send flowers or condolences in writing, Brian of Kiteworld posted the following address:

Schafer Family
1830 Southeast Federal Highway
Stuart, FL 34994-3914
Attn: Teague Taylor

Damion, it would be best to pickup your concerns in a separate thread. One dealing with this subject will be posted soon.

ricki 02-04-2010 05:26 PM

A TV interview with the lifeguard, Dan Lund that swam out to Steve Schafer and brought him to shore. Lund, a nine year lifegard with Martin County, had a serious shark bite himself 20 years ago. The newscast says Lund saw a kiter about 500 yards offshore lying on his kite. Lund paddled out to investigate. He say that Steve was lying on his kite, who yelled to Lund that he had been bitten by a shark. Lund saw Steve was injured and bleeding with sharks circling beneath the surface. He went into the water and over to the kite, carried Steve over to his rescue board, put him on it and paddled him back to shore in 4 to 6 ft. seas.,5808685.story
Lifeguard Dan Lund in 1983 before his own shark attack

The article describing the attack from 1986

bigpimp'n 02-04-2010 09:35 PM

I just cant believe this happened, I feel so sorry for his family.
I now have a new appreciation for how brave lifeguards are, to go out & do what he did is really something else.
RIP Bro.

robertovillate 02-04-2010 09:50 PM

This is a terrible tragedy. My heart goes out to his family and friends. God rest his soul.

And bravo to the lifeguard who risked his life to save a fellow kiter/waterman. That takes some real character and courage.

the following is not a "should-a, could-a, would-a" comment, but for whatever it's worth....
Exactly one week ago I was kiting a few miles from the spot that the shark attack occurred. I started out with a 9.5m, and then the wind dropped, so I came in for my 13.5m. The waves were nice so I did not want to miss it. I knew the wind was trending down and I knew there was a chance of my 13.5m kite coming down...and it did just that, about 1000' offshore. I was unable to keep my surfboard with me as I tried in vain to relaunch a few times. I then very quickly decided to stay very calm and just float - no kicking or swimming motions -and pull myself to the kite slowly. I was worried about sharks. I got to my kite, and started a wingtip sail self-rescue and got to the beach pretty quickly. I kept my eye on the board, which surfed it's way in about 5 minutes after I got to the beach. I just mention this because I feel that, knowing there are a lot of sharks in the area, I wanted to attract as little attention as possible. I may be fooling myself, but I felt this was a good approach, and maybe people want to think about that under these kind of circumstances.

ricki 02-05-2010 09:29 AM

Dr. Burgess, Director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History examined the shark attack wounds yesterday and came up with some important conclusions about the attack. He is an expert in this field maintaining the global database of shark attacks. I spoke to him yesterday by phone prior to his attending the post mortem. He speculated it was less likely spinner sharks were responsible for the initial attack but more probably a larger shark such as a bull shark. Spinners may hit humans by accident but usually move on after limited interaction. Spinners are preyed up on these same larger sharks during the seasonal migration.

In the article below, it is stated "The shark that killed a kiteboarder off Stuart this week was an 8- or 9-foot shark in the requiem family, a group which includes bull sharks and tiger sharks, a shark attack expert (Burgess), who examined the body said Thursday evening."

It goes on to say; "Blacktip and spinner sharks, also members of the requiem family, are responsible for many attacks, but those are generally just single bites by a shark that thinks a hand or foot is a fish. Bull sharks and tigers are known killers, and along with great whites, are "the primary attackers of man," according to the International Shark Attack File. There had been speculation that a great white had been the attacker, but Burgess said his examination definitively ruled out that species."

This opinion discounts what some thought was a weakly supported claim that white sharks may have responsible for the attack.

The article also states; "Schafer's death was a rare event in a state where shark attacks often are minor lacerations caused by small sharks. Worldwide about 8 percent of shark attacks result in death, but in Florida about 1 percent are fatal, according to the International Shark Attack File's statistics."

"Expert suspects tiger or bull sharks killed kiteboarder

By David Fleshler, Sun Sentinel
8:54 p.m. EST, February 4, 2010

STUART - The shark that killed a kiteboarder off Stuart this week was an 8- or 9-foot shark in the requiem family, a group which includes bull sharks and tiger sharks, a shark attack expert who examined the body said Thursday evening.

Two bite wounds on the thigh caused the death of Stephen Howard Schafer, victim of the first fatal shark attack in Florida since 2005, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Burgess drove to the medical examiner's office in Fort Pierce on Thursday to examine the body.

Blacktip and spinner sharks, also members of the requiem family, are responsible for many attacks, but those are generally just single bites by a shark that thinks a hand or foot is a fish. Bull sharks and tigers are known killers, and along with great whites, are "the primary attackers of man," according to the International Shark Attack File. There had been speculation that a great white had been the attacker, but Burgess said his examination definitively ruled out that species.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday lifeguard Daniel Lund peered through binoculars and saw Schafer lying on his board about a quarter-mile offshore, officials said. When Lund paddled out, he saw blood in the water and Schafer screamed "I've been bitten by a shark," according to an interview Lund gave to WPTV-Ch. 5.

Lund held Schafer on his rescue board with one arm and paddled to shore with the other, as sharks circled.

"It's not like the dorsal fins come out of the water like you see … in the movies," he told the television station. "They generally kinda cruise through the waves, and you can see the shadows going underneath and so on, so you know they're there."

A report by the Martin County Sheriff's Office said Schafer had suffered an 8- to 10-inch bite on the thigh, bites on the buttocks and apparent defensive wounds on the right hand.

More than 100 sharks were seen in the ocean off Reef Road in Palm Beach on Thursday morning, prompting lifeguards to monitor the beaches to see if any should be closed, WPTV-Ch. 5 reports.

Last week, beaches were closed for three days on Singer Island because of shark sightings. Hammerheads, spinners, reef and bull sharks are common off South Florida this time of year, when they follow schools of migrating fish."

Continued at:,5808685.story

TV Interview with Dr. Burgess:

ricki 02-05-2010 11:01 AM

More from the autopsy:

Dr. Linda O’Neil, associate medical examiner for the District 19 Medical Examiner’s Office at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, said the autopsy she conducted Thursday afternoon revealed the cause of death was “exsanguination, or loss of blood, due to shark bites.”

O’Neil said Schafer suffered “two shark bites, one more serious than the other. The more serious was on the back of his right thigh. It was from 9 to 10 inches long and very deep. In fact, one of the teeth hit the bone.”

O’Neil said the second bite was “across the buttocks. The wound itself was really teeth marks, puncture bites. It didn’t tear any flesh away.”

conchxpress 02-05-2010 12:02 PM

East Coast aerial shark video.
2 Attachment(s)
West Palm News at has some incredible video of the amazing number of sharks in the water near the area where the attack took place. They were taken the next day. Here are a couple of stills taken from that video. If you go down in the water, either falling or if the wind dies, I don't see how someone would have a chance of not being bitten. With that number of hungry predators competing for food, I don't think it matters what goes in the water. From the autopsy reports, they said that the flesh didn't appear to be torn, so it doesn't appear that the sharks were interested in consumption, probably only investigatory bites from a large competing group. It would be great if, along with the wind and waves forecast, there could be video like this to alert people of the shark density. I only hope that during the paddleboard ride back to the beach, Stephen's mind was at peace knowing that someone had rescued him from the horror that he had been through.

ricki 02-05-2010 02:21 PM

Just came across this TV interview shot at kitebeach in Jupiter seeking the reaction of local kiteboarders.

kent 02-05-2010 03:12 PM

I also offer my sincere condolences to his family. I didn't really know Steve, but I have seen him on the water and on the beach before. The photos of him that I saw made this event so much more real. He was obviously an accomplished rider and waterman from what I understand. This is really something that could happen to anyone. I only wish that he could have been reached earlier despite the obvious extraordinary effort that the guard put into saving him.

While this is tragic, I personally wouldn't read much more into this attack than what it was. This was sadly just a bad luck event with a terrible outcome. After events like these, the media gets all excited, launches the choppers, and brings the experts. The sharks are there all of the time, although maybe not in these numbers. Spinners aren't going to do more than nip and it generally takes some time for them to get up the courage to do anything. I wish that I knew the circumstances surrounding this attack. I have my own ideas, but I guess that we will never know. As I'm sure Rick will attest to, it is generally pretty hard to get a shark interested enough in you to attack, especially unprovoked. I spearfish all of the time and have encounters with sharks every time I go. Even in the water with injured fish, an attack is still pretty unlikely provided that you keep your eyes open. I guess that it is probably a bit more dangerous on top of the water, but once again this must have simply been Steve's time. I don't think that there was anything that he could have done to change this outcome after the events started to unfold. I see a few posts about people’s fear of sharks. I came from South Dakota originally and therefore when I came to Florida this is all that I thought about. After spending a good amount of time in the water with them, I am far more comfortable. I still take precautions and avoid swimming the inlets, etc., but wouldn't expect that this is the start of any trend.

My thoughts are with Steve and his family.

ricki 03-10-2010 11:48 AM

The Kiteboarder published a memorial to this unique man recently lost following a shark attack during kiteboarding session off Hutchinson Island, FL. You can subscribe to the magazine or see an online copy of this once posted and past issues at:

or at:

ricki 03-10-2010 08:30 PM

They're still raising money for the commemorative sculpture for Steve.

" Memorial Stephen Schafer Update: I met with Stephen's mom on Friday with all we have collected. We officially Opened the memorial fund at Seacoast National Bank. You can now drop a donation off at any Seacoast branch. Happy to say we have collect over 4,000 dollars and we will keep you posted. Just giving the family time.. Thank you to all w...hom donated and BIG thanks to Surf Central, Ohana & The Arts Council for collecting ~ steph forsberg"

(From the "Memorial Stephen Schafer" Facebook page)

ricki 02-04-2011 02:25 PM

Lifeguard Daniel Lund Honored

"Lifeguard in Wednesday's shark-attack rescue a 'hero,' colleagues say

Years after a shark ripped into his leg and ankle, Daniel Lund became an ocean lifeguard.

The consummate "water man," he grew up on the ocean and loved it too much not to accept its inherent risks. In that sense, Lund, 46, had something in common with Stephen Schafer, 38, the well-known surfer whose life he tried to save Wednesday off Stuart Beach.

Lund's fellow lifeguards described him as highly skilled and compassionate. They said no one was better equipped to handle what unfolded that day after a shark attacked Schafer as he was kiteboarding about a quarter-mile offshore.

To bring Schafer in, Lund paddled into bloody, shark-infested waters, ignoring the risk to himself.

"If I'm out there and I'm bleeding real bad and I'm scared, I want a guy like Dan Lund to show up," said lifeguard Mike Mammen. "He's a hero in my book.""

Continued at:

Daniel Lund awarded Metal of Valor by USLA:

Video interview of Daniel Lund:
Daniel after his own shark attack in 1986
Daniel Lund today

ricki 11-19-2011 10:18 PM

By odd coincidence, I traveled to the Stuart area for a funeral today. My friend was a dynamic, well respected and successful business and family man. Hearing all the stories of his life and times made you think. It is good to leave a positive impression on those around you by your values and actions through life.

I brought some kite gear along and had planned on going off Ft. Pierce Inlet after the ceremony. It didn't work out that way, given limited time and location, I went to the public beach at the south end of Hutchinsen Island where Steve had his accident, two years ago this coming February. My normal riding area is 70 miles south, so I don't make it up here very often. The last time for kiting was probably ten years back.

It was a sunny day with people on the beach and about a dozen surfers in the water. I couldn't see any kiters along the coast but the wind had ebbed, down to around 14 mph or so. Waves were about head high and under. I confirmed things with the lifeguards before going out, stay beyond 100 yards off the guarded beach with a kite up. This is pretty much universal throughout southeast Florida. If we are to preserve access we need to do this simple thing and motivate other kiters to do the same.

I assumed shark activity had been light and this was confirmed by the lifeguard. There is no shortage in these waters and many others frequented by kiters, still the spring migration is still a few months off at this point. So, I went out for a while, tacked upwind down to the House of Refuge and ran back downwind to just outside the lifeguarded area.

We're on this earth for a short time, we never know how short either. The friend whose funeral I attended made it to his mid 70's. Steve Schafer to 38 years. Neither had likely anticipated the timing of their deaths, the cancer in my friend's case nor the fatal shark bite in Steve's tragic accident.

Judging from the comments of friends in each man's case you have to conclude that each lived a productive life, enriching the lives of those around them by their acts and really being type of people they were. So, live life well, enjoy your times and help those around you by example and in actions. These two guys did, the world is a poorer place for their passing but richer for deeds during their lives.

ricki 04-27-2016 01:20 PM

A summary of what happened to the best of our knowledge in this sad accident:

Steve Schafer was kiting by himself about a 1/4 mile off the public beach in Stuart, FL in Feb. 2010. It was during the black tip shark migration where hundreds may swim by you while kiting in an hour. "Usually" they seem to ignore kiters although some have been bitten and in this area when in the water in years past. They actually may chase kiters when they transition it turns out. In this case we don't know what happened for sure but it looks like a larger, more aggressive bull shark hit Steve, likely when he was off his board for whatever reason. Larger bulls, tigers and hammerhead sharks following the smaller blacktip shark migration and feed upon it which has escaped notice by kiters in the past. Sharks often hit the motor centers in the legs to stop flight. This often results in cutting the femoral artery and exsanguination in a short period of time. Steve was seen by a lifeguard from an adjoining guarded beach. He went out to recover Steve and bring him to shore. He expired shortly after arriving at the beach due to blood loss.

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