Local News

Flyovers Continue Along N.C. Coast After Shark Attack

Posted September 5, 2001

— Surveillance flights will continue to scan the waters along the Outer Banks Wednesday, searching for any sign of sharks. This comes after a deadly attack in Avon on Monday night.

The first fatal attack off of North Carolina's coast in 44 years may have happened in shallow water. Officials say Sergi Zaloukaev, 28, and Natalia Slobonskaya, 23, were headed back to shore, just about 40 feet away from land, when they were attacked Monday at the Outer Banks.

Zaloukaev, of Arlington, Va., died as a result of the attack, and autopsy results have confirmed that it was a shark that bit him.

"We have gotten back the autopsy report from the medial examiner and according to Dr. Spence, the individual that passed away last night was due to a sharp force injury, massive loss of blood, due to multiple shark bites," says

National Park Services

Ranger Mary Doll.

Slobonskaya, of Vienna, Va., remains in critical but stable condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va.

Doctors in Virginia say Slobonskaya is doing very well, but has a long way to go in her rehabilitation. She is currently awake and on a ventilator.

Doctors say her young age will help her as she begins her long and painful recovery.

"From a neurologic point of view she is doing well," says Dr. Jeffery Riblet, a trauma specialist. "I do worry a bit about her leg from a functional point of view in that this large tissue injury is close to and surrounds a large nerve in the back of her leg."

Slobonskaya's left foot was severed in the attack; Zaloukaev lost his right foot. Both suffered severe bites on their buttocks, thighs and lower legs and lost large amounts of blood.

Around 6 p.m., bystanders in Avon, where the couple was attacked, had already dragged them to shore and were administering first aid when rescue workers arrived, said Skeeter Sawyer, director of emergency medical services for Dare County. Slobonskaya was alert at the time.

Biologists with the

N.C. Aquarium

say they saw nothing out of the ordinary during a flyover of the area Tuesday morning. A Coast Guard helicopter also flew over the beaches along the Outer Banks, with marine experts looking for any kind of unusual shark activity, and none was spotted.

Officials say they do not plan to close the beach unless there is an immient threat.

Experts say that usually when a shark bites a human, it realizes the victim is too large and lets go.

While shark attacks are uncommon, deadly attacks are even more rare.

There have been 50 reported shark attacks worldwide this year, with 28 of them in Florida's waters. Five shark attacks occurred in North Carolina last year. The last shark fatality in the state occurred in Atlantic Beach in 1957.

Doll says the beach in Avon will remain open, and advises beachgoers to be cautious. Patrols of the beach will begin at dusk.

Experts say there are ways to avoid sharks:

  • Do not wear brightly colored clothing or jewelry, especially in murky water.
  • Do not go swimming around dusk or dawn, as that is the time sharks are most likely to be feeding.
  • While many swimmers are now afraid to go into the water, experts continue to say shark attacks are very rare.

    "I compare this to a plane crash," says David Griffin, director of the N.C. Aquarium. "It gives everybody a thought about flying, but the odds of it are so low that we continue to fly."

    The Outer Banks attack came less than two days after a 10-year-old boy was killed by a shark off Virginia Beach. David Peltier died after a shark bit him in the leg and severed a major artery.

    Investigators think a sandbar shark lunged at Peltier while he was swimming with his dad in four feet of water. Peltier's father says he spotted the shark, and told his sons to get back, but it was too late.

    Peltier's mother says her son died doing something he loved.

    "He loved surfing. His daddy surfed and that's what he was doing. He wanted to make everyone proud of him," she says.

    and

    Kamal Wallace

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