A New York woman was killed by a shark while scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica, officials said.
Rohina Bhandari, 49, was attacked by a tiger shark while at the Manuelita dive site at Isla del Coco National Park Thursday, the country’s Ministry of Environment and Energy and the National System of Conservation Areas said.
“This is the first occurrence of this magnitude in the Isla del Coco National Park,” the agencies said in a statement Friday.
Bhandari suffered severe bites to both of her legs before she was pulled from the water. Park officials and doctors vacationing on the island tried immediately tried to treat Bhandari’s extensive wounds, but she could not be saved, authorities said.
The government-issued statement only identified Bhandari by her last name, but loved ones of the private equity director took to social media to mourn her death.
“You were one of a kind,” Norah Lawlor wrote on Facebook. “You will be truly missed my friend!”
“One of a kind couldn’t be a better description,” echoed Jordan Robinson. “She was tough as nails with her career goals and soft as a loyal friend outside of work. I am so fortunate I had the time to know her, tonight I am so sad.”
Bhandari was a senior director of marketing and investor relations at WL Ross & Co. LLC. She attended the Asian Institute of Management before getting her Master of Science in Finance at George Washington University.
The Upper East Side woman was a regular at charity events in Manhattan, attending benefits support organizations including Oceana, the Humane Society of New York and the Fisher House Foundation in recent years.
She also loved to explore new things, friends said.
“This is so awful — Rohina was an adventurer and I had many with her,” Nancy Pearson wrote on Facebook. “I’m confident that the next one will be even better. It’s a terrible loss for her friends of which there are many. Thinking of the good times. Lovely girl.”
“Rohina Bhandari, you lived your life fully, always challenging yourself with great courage. I admire you for this,” Silvia Francescon posted. “You were fun, kind and full of life. RIP beautiful soul.”
A diving instructor with Bhandari also suffered a shark bite, but his injuries were not life-threatening and he was conscious during the incident.
He told officials that a female tiger shark attacked as his group ascended to the surface of the water.
Bhandari was one of 18 people diving in an area known to be populated with many species of sharks.
Officials said researchers in 2012 tagged five tiger sharks near the dive spot and called Thursday’s attack an isolated event and the first of its kind for the area.