REVERE — Paddling on his boogie board, getting in position to catch the next good wave at a Wellfleet beach early Saturday afternoon, Arthur Medici went underwater.
Five or 10 yards away, Isaac Rocha heard a scream as his friend resurfaced. He saw a fin and blood in the water. He swam over, grabbed Medici, and began dragging him the almost 40 yards to shore.
“It’s something that never passes your brain, your mind — you never think about that” happening, said Rocha, 16, of Everett, in a phone interview Sunday night. “It was just horrible, the worst feeling in the world,” he said.
Rocha tried to save him, tying a boogie board strap as a makeshift tourniquet around Medici’s leg. But the 26-year-old from Revere had been attacked by a shark and was declared dead at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis later Saturday.
Medici was planning to marry Rocha’s sister. The teen said he remembered Medici as a person full of love who was like an older brother to him.
“He meant a lot for everyone,” Rocha said. “Everyone he came in touch with he was loved [by], and loved.”
He said Medici “always fought for things he loved and who he loved.”
Medici had had rings custom made in his native Brazil and planned to propose to Emily Rocha on a beach soon, according to Rocha.
Rocha said Medici was an engineering student, who had recently finished summer classes, and an avid body surfer, who frequently took him on trips to the Cape and Rhode Island. The two had surfed together at Newcomb Hollow until dusk the night before and also five days before that.
“There isn’t a way to describe how much this hurts,” he said.
On Sunday, the strong smell of the ocean at Revere Beach filled the air around the pale blue house on a quiet street where Medici lived with his aunt and uncle.
Medici had moved in with them on Beachland Avenue about four years earlier, said Marisa Medici, his aunt, in a brief phone interview. Medici’s parents live in Brazil, she said.
Itamar Medici, the victim’s father, wrote painfully of his loss on Facebook Sunday.
“Son... you left me. I’m broken and left without the will to live,” he posted in Portuguese.
“I was fighting to give you everything and now . . . who’s going to keep what I was saving up to give to you. I don’t have the will to live anymore because nothing makes sense anymore . . . I love you for all of eternity,” he wrote.
A GoFundMe page established to benefit Medici’s family had exceeded its $25,000 goal as of early Monday.
Medici was active with his church, and loved hiking, biking, surfing, and other sports, according to a statement posted to the fund-raiser site.
“Our lives are never going to be the same without him. His laughter filled our home and he will be greatly missed by us all,” the statement said.
Medici was a student at Bunker Hill Community College, where he enrolled part time during the spring semester, according to a college statement.
“The faculty, staff and administration of Bunker Hill Community College offer their sincerest condolences after the tragic death of Arthur Medici who was killed in a shark attack on Cape Cod Saturday afternoon,” according to the statement.
The college is offering support to faculty and students who may have been in class with Medici, according to college spokeswoman Brooke L. Yarborough.
Richard Collins, director of Fitzgerald & Collins in Marlborough, visited the home on Beachland Avenue Sunday afternoon to discuss funeral services. He said as he was leaving that plans have not been finalized.
Medici’s death was the first from a shark attack in more than 80 years, and only the fourth in Massachusetts history. It was not clear what kind of shark had bitten Medici.
Saturday’s attack came after a New York man was injured by a shark while swimming near Truro last month. A previous shark attack near Truro in 2012 left another man injured while bodysurfing.
Last month, Nathan Sears, Orleans’s harbormaster, wrote on Facebook that the “inshore waters off of Cape Cod are truly a wild place” and people should practice extreme caution while visiting the area.
“Regardless of how much signage and information we provide, there still seems to be a concerning level of complacency,” Sears wrote. “People continue to risk entering and swimming in the water even after the recent incident in Truro where the man was bitten.”
Sharks are drawn to the waters off the Cape by hundreds of seals, and residents in the area have seen shark sightings increase as the seal population has grown in the past few decades, officials have said.
“There are two things we can’t control: Shark behavior and seal behavior... what does that leave us? We have to modify our behavior,” said Greg Skomal, program manager and senior scientist with the state Division of Marine Fisheries.
Colin Sheehan sat with his 12-year-son, Dermott, on the edge of a sand dune on Newcomb Hollow Beach Sunday afternoon watching the ocean where Medici had been attacked.
Sheehan, 51, said he had met Medici on the same beach a few days before the attack while they were changing out of their wetsuits.
Medici was with a friend, he said, and looked like he was having a good time.
When he saw Medici’s face in the paper Sunday, Sheehan said he started shaking and crying.
“It’s surreal, everyone’s kind of in shock, “ Sheehan said. “[My son] and I would be in the water right now but it’s too scary. It went from hypothetical to reality.”
He was not going in the water Sunday, he said, despite the picture-perfect day, but many other surfers did, disregarding a sign that said “No swimming, surfing etc. until further notice.”
Underneath the sign was a memorial that had been set up with candles, shells, and flowers.
Earlier in the day, beachgoers said surfers had a spotter standing on the dunes with binoculars looking out for sharks.
Miranda Kielpinski, 28, of Harwich was taking advantage of the swell Sunday. What had happened was terrible, she said, but the ocean is a playground for these animals.
“When you surf it’s a passion,” said Kielpinski. “We’re well of aware of what could happen.”
Paul Fleming, 69, of Eastham said he was on Newcomb Hollow when the attack occurred.
The retiree and lifelong surfer had watched as Medici was pulled out of the water Saturday.
Sunday, he was back on the beach preparing to surf for a couple of hours.
Surfing is something they live for, he said.
“It’s still traumatic to me today right now and this is my solution for it,” Fleming said. “I need to, we all have to go out here. We cannot not go out here. We must do it. I’m nervous as hell, but I owe it to the young man who died yesterday.”
As she sat on the shore Sunday, Pennsylvania resident Susan Ketchum, 55, said she couldn’t stop thinking about the young man who lost his life the day before.
“I was paying homage to him silently in my chair,” she said. “Just thinking a lot about it. I didn’t know him but I love this place and I love the ocean.”