Local News

Teen, Carolina Beach Get Back To Vacation After Attack

Posted July 30, 2004

— Sitting quietly in a wheelchair Thursday, shy 13-year-old Alexis Huesgen listened as a hospital spokesperson explained her ordeal.

"People known and unknown rushed to her assistance and rallied in any way they could," Kendra Gerlach said.

Convenience store worker Tammy Young was among those who rushed to help Huesgen.

"The girl herself was very calm," Young said.

Young called 911 after Huesgen apparently was bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of Carolina Beach.

"I didn't know what to expect when I came out the door," Young said.

Huesgen did not want to talk on camera. Her father told WRAL that whatever attacked her grabbed her and shook her.

A witness saw a shark in the water.

Laura Holder saw the commotion Tuesday. Thursday, she was watching her kids from the shore and trying to keep the risk in perspective.

"It's scary," Holder said. "It was real scary the day it happened."

The town of Carolina Beach has briefed all lifeguards, who will record all activity and report shark sightings immediately.

Huesgen, who will need physical therapy, was expected to make a full recovery.

"As she leaves," Gerlach said, "she's a healthy, beautiful 13-year-old girl, as you can see."

Huesgen and her family are from Maryland. They will head home in about a week and a half.

Shark attacks are not very common on North Carolina's coast. Since 1960, only about 24 have been reported.

A Russian couple vacationing on the Outer Banks were attacked while swimming near Avon on September 5, 2001. The man died from massive wounds and the woman, who survived, lost a foot.

Experts said it is more likely that a person will suffer a fatal bee sting or be struck by lightning than be attacked by a shark on the North Carolina coast.

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