Manhattan Woman Killed in Shark Attack in Costa Rica

The shark tore away at Rohina Bhandari’s legs and injured her guide when she had gone diving at Cocos island.


An Indian American woman from Manhattan, New York, was killed by a tiger shark on Nov. 30 while diving off an island in Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean.

Rohina Bhandari, a 49-year-old private equity director, sustained fatal bite marks on both her legs. Her 26-year old diving guide from Costa Rica, who was leading the group, also suffered leg injuries.

Bhandari was a resident of Upper East Side in Manhattan. She was a senior director at WL Ross & Co. LL, a firm founded by Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary of the United States. The sales and marketing executive hailed from Mangaluru in Karnataka. Her brother Nitin Bhandari is said to be a doctor in the city.

The guide had noticed the shark approaching his group under water and tried to scare it away. When the group surfaced after the dive, the shark attacked Bhandari, tearing at her legs.

The Environment Ministry of Costa Rica said in a statement that it was an isolated incident and the first one to be of such serious nature recorded on the island. The shark savaged the two on Nov. 30 as they were surfacing after a dive off Cocos Island, a pristine national park located 300 miles off the Costa Rican mainland, the statement added.

Park rangers immediately came in to help, along with doctors who happened to be diving in the area. They declared Bhandari dead when they found her. The injured guide was rushed to a hospital where he was conscious and in a stable condition.

Tiger sharks that have dark stripes on their body when young are quite common around the Pacific islands. They are known to be aggressive and have a history of attacking humans.

Costa Rica, a Central American nation, relies heavily on tourism. It is thronged by tourists from all across the world, especially the United States. The picturesque country boasts of both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines.

The news of Bhandari’s death was met with grief and shock by her friends on Facebook. “RIP Rohina Bhandari you were one of a kind, you will be truly missed my friend,” a post said.

Another friend posted, “Rohina Bhandari, you lived your life fully, always challenging yourself with great courage. I admire you for this. I will always remember your first sirsasana in Costa Rica in Jules’ safe hands and the great time we spent together. You were fun, kind and full of life. RIP beautiful soul.”

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