Neighbors expressed shock Wednesday, one day after 44-year-old Lauren Erickson Van Wart was identified as the victim in a deadly shark attack in the Bahamas earlier this week. 

Authorities said Van Wart was paddleboarding off New Providence Island on Monday when she was attacked. 

Van Wart’s husband, who was paddleboarding with her, was not hurt. Van Wart was rescued and given CPR but later died. 

While an investigation into the incident continued, officials with the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday said they are offering support to Van Wart’s grieving family.

Back home, Van Wart’s neighbor, Beth Stack-Emerson shared her reaction.

“How can you process something like this?” she said. “It was a tragedy.” 

“He was with her,” Stack-Emerson said of Van Wart’s husband. “He watched that happen to her. How do you get over that?” 

Gavin Naylor, the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research said an autopsy should help officials identify the type of shark involved in this deadly attack. 

“It’s a very difficult time for the families of the people involved,” he said. 

“We have to see the autopsy reports and we’ll have to see the tooth marks,” he continued. “Sometimes, some forensic evidence is very compelling. Some is more ambiguous.” 

At Curriculum Associates in Billerica, where Van Wart worked as a math editor, coworkers have been heartbroken, grieving the loss of a dear and trusted colleague and friend. 

Back in the Bahamas, even after three fatal shark attacks in the country in the past five years, experts say incidents like what happened Monday are still extremely rare. 

“I think it’s always good to put things in context,” Naylor said. “The number of car accidents that kill people a year is a thousand times higher.” 

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