Authorities have identified the Massachusetts woman killed in a shark attack in the Bahamas on Monday as a 44-year-old from Lowell.
The Royal Bahamas Police Public Affairs and Communications Department made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, identifying the woman as Lauren Erickson Van Wart.
“Police investigations are ongoing,” the department said.
Van Wart had been paddleboarding off New Providence Island near a resort where she was staying when she was attacked around 11 a.m. Monday, officials said.
Police said a lifeguard in a rescue boat pulled Van Wart and her husband out of the water.
Van Wart’s husband was not injured, according to police. Though Van Wart was given CPR, authorities said she suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body and later died.
Back home in Lowell, Beth Stack-Emerson has lived across the street from Van Wart for years. She said she and Van Wart regularly greeted each other in the morning as Van Wart walked her dog.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Stack-Emerson said after hearing news about Van Wart on Tuesday. “It really is.”
“They probably looked forward to this vacation for months,” Stack Emerson continued. “I can’t even imagine — don’t want to imagine.”
At Curriculum Associates in Billerica, where Van Wart worked, CEO Rob Waldron also reacted on Tuesday, saying the Curriculum Associates team “is heartbroken and grieving the loss of a dear and trusted colleague and friend.”
“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,” Waldron said in a statement.
Waldron said Van Wart’s “commitment to excellence and outstanding work was driven by a higher purpose, focused on improving learning outcomes for all.”
“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,” he continued.
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