Lauren Erickson Van Wart was named by the Royal Bahamas Police Force as the 44-year-old Boston, Massachusetts, area woman who was killed by a 15-foot shark on December 4 while paddleboarding in the Bahamas on her honeymoon.
According to a statement from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the “44-year-old American female visitor from Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. has died as a result of a shark attack that occurred around 11:15 a.m. on Monday 4th December, 2023.”
The shark attack occurred near the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in New Providence, WCVB-TV reported. Public records say that Lauren Van Wart lived in Lowell.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lauren Erickson Van Wart Was Married the Day Before the Shark Attack, Reports Say
Compounding the tragedy: Eyewitness News in the Bahamas reported that Van Wart was on her honeymoon, having just celebrated her wedding.
An eyewitness told Eyewitness News in the Bahamas that Van Wart was paddleboarding with her husband, adding, “They just got married yesterday.”
Erickson’s husband has not been named. “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,” Sandals Resorts said in a statement, according to WCVB.
Debra DeWeese wrote on Facebook that she was staying at the resort when the tragedy happened and witnessed its aftermath:
Visiting Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau today, on a travel agent day pass – and it is a gorgeous resort. …Sadly, the staff and some guests are a bit traumatized currently because during our visit, a lady and her husband were out paddleboarding and the wife was attacked by a shark – larger than the rescue boat they say, and despite CPR when they brought her in, she did not make it. They say everyone heard the screams, even though she was far from the beach . . . one witness just told me that the lounge chair I’m laying in here on the beach was where the lady layed this morning.
Wow, tragic! They were 30s and I can’t imagine what the husband is going through. Every day is precious and we never know when we’re going to go, but that is definately not the way!
She also shared pictures from the scene on her Facebook page.
2. Lauren Van Wart Worked as a Supervising Editor Developing Mathematics Curriculum & Was Remembered by Her Boss as a ‘Beloved Member of Our Math Editorial Team’
According to her LinkedIn page, Van Wart was a “supervising editor” for Mathematics from 2014 to present in North Billerica, Massachusetts. The company was listed as Curriculum Associates.
Before that, she worked for Pearson for more than seven years as a senior editor in the Secondary Math Product Development area. She also worked as an editor and associate editor at that company.
Among her duties: “As the Editorial project lead for the first department effort to convert a Flash-based digital program (digits) to an HTML5 environment” and “As the Editorial lead for new content for digits Texas, a Grades 6-8 Texas Mathematics digital program: Ensured that all new content aligned to the 2012 Texas TEKS, with a focus on the Personal Financial Literacy Standards.”
Van Wart also worked as a mathematics editor for Tighe in Boston and was a math teacher in the Town of Oxford from 2002 to 2006, according to the LinkedIn page.
She was a finalist for the Finalist for the “2013 CODiE Award: Best Educational Use of a Mobile Device” issued by the Software & Information Industry Association, her LinkedIn page says.
“Our team is heartbroken and grieving the loss of a dear and trusted colleague and friend,” Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates, said in a statement obtained by Daily Mail.
“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,” he said.
“Our Curriculum Associates community is mourning this tragedy and extends our deepest love and support to Lauren’s wonderful husband and all of her family.”
3. Lauren Erickson Van Wart Was a Chancellor Scholar in College Who Earned a Triple Major
Van Wart graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002 with degrees in literature, mathematics and economics, according to her LinkedIn page.
“Activities and societies: Chancellor Scholar, Golden Key Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma,” the page says.
“Chancellor Scholar who earned a triple major in Mathematics, English Literature, and Economics,” it adds.
For 15 years, she volunteered as a coach for “Western Mass ARML Math Team.” She listed text editing among her skills.
4. Lauren Van Wart Was Paddleboarding When the Shark Bit Her in the Bahamas, Police Say
Preliminary reports “indicate that the victim, along with a male relative, was paddle boarding away from the shoreline in waters at the rear of a resort in western New Providence when she was bitten by a shark,” the police news release says.
According to the release, the resort lifeguard on duty “responded to the incident unfolding, went into a rescue boat, retrieved the victim and the male relative from the water, and brought them to safety while administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the victim.”
Van Wart “suffered significant trauma to the right side of her body,” the release said. “She was examined on scene by emergency medical technicians, who concluded that she showed no vital signs of life.”
An official identification process “by the next of kin will be conducted at the Rand Lab (P.M.H.) as His Majesty Coroner continues investigation into this incident,” police wrote. Police later named Van Wart in a subsequent news release.
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File “investigated 108 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2022. ISAF confirmed 57 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 32 provoked bites,” its website says.
5. An Eyewitness Described the Horrific Scene
The eyewitness, a jet ski operator, told the Bahamas-based television station that the man with the woman was her husband, and they were paddleboarding about three quarters of a mile from the shore, near the Sandals resort.
“We saw the victim and her husband,” he said, adding that they were “laughing and talking, and they were just paddling out on the paddleboard and like they were out there for like 20, 25 minutes.”
All of a sudden, a worker from the resort pulled up a boat’s anchor and “then she shoot out there. And then she pulled them up and then she asked for assistance. So the guys on the jet ski went out there and they help, assisted, but boy, the shark, he’s had to been like they say like 15 foot long,” the man told the television station. “And the victim was pulled on board.”
The eyewitness told the television station that the shark “had the paddleboard for himself.” The shark pulled it down and “it was submerged for like 15 seconds, 20 seconds. So he was out there like patrolling around the board,” which still had “all the blood on it,” the man said.