Coast Scoured for Friend of Shark Victim

Times Staff Writers

The search continued Tuesday for the missing companion of a young woman killed in a shark attack last week, while news of the UCLA graduate student’s violent death stunned classmates and faculty members on the Westwood campus.

Members of Roy Jeffrey Stoddard’s family were arriving at his Malibu home, still hopeful that he would be found alive, even though it has been more than five days since he set out from Malibu on a short morning kayaking excursion with his girlfriend, Tamara McAllister.

“My brother was an expert in the water, and if anybody can (survive), he can,” said Rod Stoddard, who said he planned to embark on his own boat search for his older brother. “I’m going to find him.”

Two Coast Guard boats and a helicopter are scouring the coastline between Ventura and Malibu for signs of Stoddard, whose kayak was found Friday about five miles off Point Mugu. The kayaks had been lashed together, a common practice when kayakers stop to rest or swim. One of the kayaks had three large holes, probably put there by the impact of a great white shark, authorities said.

McAllister’s body, found Saturday about six miles off the Ventura County coast, was identified Monday. Authorities speculate that McAllister’s body drifted north with the current.


Time for Counseling

Many of her classmates in the School of Public Health were not aware of her death until they went to class Tuesday.

“There was shocked, stunned silence,” said Jess Kraus, one of her professors. He set aside his lecture to let a counselor talk to his students about coping with McAllister’s death. “Even when I dismissed the class, many wouldn’t go. . . . It’s a big hurt.”

McAllister, 24, had started her master’s degree studies at UCLA in family health in September, preparing for public health work in Kenya, where she had spent several months while an undergraduate at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. She was taking a course in Swahili and had earned a customary A last term. “She was an excellent student,” said McAllister’s adviser, Linda Bourque. “She was bright and personable and attractive.”

Stoddard, 24, also is a graduate student in public health and both worked at the school--Stoddard as a teaching assistant in one of McAllister’s courses, and McAllister as an assistant in a computer lab. When they failed to show up for their jobs, co-workers became concerned.

“She’s always been much too reliable . . . to leave us hanging, so I felt something was wrong,” said Diana Thatcher, a computer lab supervisor who expected McAllister in the lab Monday morning.

Thatcher described McAllister as one of her best assistants, a kind, open woman who went out of her way to be patient with bumbling computer students and who once lent her car to someone she barely knew. “That kind of generosity and trust you don’t see very often,” said Thatcher, noting that the halls of the public health school were quiet and subdued Tuesday.

Rod Stoddard, an 18-year-old UC Santa Barbara student, said his brother and McAllister had hiked, camped and kayaked together as often as they could since meeting at the beginning of the school year. Stoddard, who is from San Jose, enjoyed showing her the natural glories of his state.

Both were fit, experienced athletes. Stoddard tested his mettle on everything from mountain climbing to bicycling, surfing, scuba diving and kayaking.

Rod Stoddard said his brother taught him to surf when he was a child, coaching him to stay calm when the waves grew frightening. “We both have tremendous respect for the ocean and the environment. You can never underestimate the powers of the ocean,” Rod Stoddard said.

His brother, he added, “is not a material person, he’d rather go surfing and lie on the beach than go to a nice restaurant.”

Tom Myers, a friend and neighbor of Stoddard, described him as a careful and skillful outdoorsman who was as fit as a professional lifeguard. The shark attack, Myers said, had to have happened “within sight of shore. They wouldn’t have gone outside the kelp beds. They’re too smart for that.”

He and Stoddard had gone scuba diving together, but had never been concerned about shark attacks, Myers said. “The possibility was always very remote. It’s like going snow skiing and worrying about the wolves.”

Boxall reported from Los Angeles and Corwin from Santa Barbara.


Roy Jeffrey Stoddard and Tamara McAllister left the beach north of Malibu in their kayaks Thursday morning, planning to paddle about 1.5 miles to Paradise Cove, and return immediately. Their kayaks were found lashed together the following afternoon off Point Mugu. McAllister’s body, which drifted north, was found Saturday, about 5 miles off Point Mugu by the crew of a sailboat.

Coast Guard rescue teams are still searching for Stoddard.

1--Kayakers left from Latigo Shore Drive about 9 a.m., Thursday.

2--Destination was Paradise Cove.

3--2 kayaks were found about 5 miles off Pt. Mugu at 11 a.m. Friday.

4--McAllister’s body found 5 miles S.W. of Channel Island Harbor at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.


About 35 species of sharks swim the waters off California, including the great white, which is believed to have killed kayaker Tamara McAllister last week off the Malibu coast.

The most common sharks in Southern California waters are not dangerous to humans. These include the bottom-dwelling horn and swell sharks and the angel shark. Thresher sharks reach lengths of over 15 feet, but are not known to attack people. Basking sharks can grow to 40 feet but devour only tiny plankton.

Among the most dangerous sharks, only the great white is prevalent along the U.S. Pacific coast, and it prefers the cooler waters from Northern California to the Gulf of Alaska. The two others--tiger and bull sharks--are mainly found in tropical and subtropical waters.

Great whites are considered responsible for most of the 68 known attacks off California and Oregon since 1926. Smaller blue sharks also have been involved in attacks in Southern California.

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Size: To 21 feet, up to 3 tons.

Pacific Range: From Alaska to Gulf of California.

Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)

Size: To 12 1/2 feet, more than 400 pounds.

Pacific Range: From southern Alaska to Chile.