MORRO BAY (CBS13) — Sacramento resident Tomas Butterfield was attacked and killed by a shark on Christmas eve while surfing near Morro Bay.

The surfer was in the area visiting family for the holidays. The news was shocking for family, including Tomas’ uncle, Grant Butterfield, who was celebrating at a Christmas eve dinner party when he got a call from Tomas’ father.

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“I thought he was calling to wish me a merry Christmas. The first thing he says is we’ve lost Tom,” Grant said.

His nephew was dead.

“I thought ‘Oh my, car crash, heart attack,’ I hadn’t a clue. I was just in shock myself,” Grant said.

The shock grew when he learned how Tomas’s life ended

Grant said Tomas was visiting his mother in Morro Bay and spent Christmas Eve morning in the ocean.

“Tomas decided he would take his boogie board out and take a dip in the ocean before his brother got there,” Granny said.

Morro Bay Harbor Director Eric Endersby said a fellow surfer found Butterfield’s board bobbing. She followed the board’s leash down to his body and dragged him onto the beach, but it was too late.

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Tomas went to high school in Alaska and eventually moved to California. He was living in Sacramento and working for his father when he died.

The family is left with a question.

“How long are the odds for something like this?” Grant said.

According to California State University, Long Beach, the chances of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1-in-3.75 million.

Grant told us Tomas’ mother and brother, Ben, are devastated and leaning on the church for peace. Tomas’ father, who’s recovering from the Christmas eve snowstorm in Colfax, is simply getting by.

“I’m sure anytime he sits down, it’s working on him,” Grant said.

The family is finding solace in knowing Tomas was doing something he loved.

“The kid had salt water in his veins. I think we’ll all be OK,” Grant said.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was able to take measurements of the bite marks left on Tomas’ body but have not yet released their findings. Though, Endersby says the attacker was likely a great white shark.