Stephen Schafer Was Surrounded, Attacked By Sharks in Florida

Stephen Schafer was wind surfing when the predators surrounded him.

Feb. 4, 2010 — -- Wind surfer Stephen Schafer, who was killed Wednesday by a swarm of sharks off the coast of Florida, had bruises on his arms that indicate he tried to fight off the feeding predators during his final moments.

In a report released today by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the 38-year-old surfer had 8 to 10 inch bite wounds on his right thigh and "numerous teeth marks" on his right and left buttocks.

Schafer also had bruising on the inside of his right arm and wounds on his hand that appeared to be "defensive wounds" he suffered while he tried fend off the sharks.

The surfer was just 500 yards off shore at Stuart Beach in Florida when lifeguard Daniel Lund, looking through binoculars, noticed he was in trouble and was lying on his board's large sail.

"He was just hanging onto his board -- not normal activity for a kite surfer," Daniel Wouters of Martin County Fire Rescue told ABC News' West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF. "Normally, the wind comes and they pick back up and they go off, but he had been hanging onto his board."

Lund, 47, told the Associated Press that he grabbed his long surfboard and paddled 20 minutes through 4 to 6 feet tall waves to get to Schafer. When Lund got close to Schafer, he could see the danger.

"I get to him, I'm probably within 20 yards or so from him, and there's just a lot of blood in the water," Lund told the AP. He could see several sharks circling nearby.

According to the incident report, Schafer was screaming that a shark had bit him.

Lund said he pulled Schafer onto his board and headed back to the beach. The lifeguard declined to describe Schafer's injuries, but said he was conscious and speaking when they got to the beach and paramedics began treating him.

Witnesses who saw the drama unfold said that the paramedics were powerless to save Schafer.

"I can't emphasize enough that they did their best. The guy just wasn't moving. It was very heartbreaking in a way," witness Jim Smith told ABC News.

Schafer's Death Highlights Rarity of Fatal Shark Attacks

Schafer's death is the first fatal shark attack on record in Martin County, Fla., and just the 14th killer shark attack in the state's history.

The last time a swimmer was fatally attacked by a shark was in 2005 when 14-year-old Jamie Marie Daigle was killed by a bull shark while playing on a boogie board just a few hundred yards off the sand in Walton County, according to WPBF.

Yesterday's attack comes at the height of Florida's busy winter tourist season.

Friends of the victim who say Schafer was an experienced kiteboarder are in shock today, mourning a friend they say had no enemies.

"I've never heard of multiple sharks in this area surrounding someone and fatally wounding him," the victim's childhood friend, Teague Taylor, told the Palm Beach Post. "He was the nicest person ever."

"You always think in the back of your mind that they (sharks) are out there," said Taylor.

According to the International Shark Attack File, surfers and wind surfers made up approximately 57 percent of shark attacks worldwide in 2008.

Despite reports of deaths like Schafer's, the number of fatal shark attacks has actually decreased in recent years, averaging 63 per year worldwide since a high in 2000, when sharks claimed 79 lives.

Experts attribute the decline to the decrease in the number of sharks in the ocean and fewer circumstances of humans putting themselves in water that could be shark-infested.

ABC News' Jeremy Hubbard contributed to this report.