Local News

Girl, boy each lose left arm to shark bite

Posted June 14, 2015
Updated June 16, 2015

— Two teenagers face a long recovery after being bitten in separate shark attacks off Oak Island Sunday evening.

A 12-year-old girl was bitten near the Ocean Crest Pier just before 5 p.m., and the attack on the 16-year-old boy happened about an hour later near the 55th Street beach access, authorities said. Both were in waist-deep water about 20 yards from shore, Oak Island Town Manager Tim Holloman said.

The boy was identified as Hunter Treschl of Colorado Springs, Colo., according to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The girl was identified as Kiersten Yow of Archdale, according to multiple news sources. Both were visiting Oak Island on vacation.

Dr. Borden Hooks, the surgeon who operated on the pair, said Monday afternoon that the prognosis for both was good despite the serious injuries.

He described Treschl's injury as a "clean transection" of his left arm. Surgeons amputated above the boy's elbow, and he was awake and talking Monday afternoon.

"He's in good shape," Hooks said, noting that younger people recover more easily from traumatic injury.

"I can't tell you how well he will recover. I can only tell you that they've made a lot of advances in prosthetic limbs," he said.

Hooks said the girl's family had asked him not to talk in detail about her condition. He praised bystanders who helped both teens before emergency personnel arrived.

"When we first got to the beach, a lot of the bystanders were helping," said Tracy Carnes, a Brunswick County paramedic. "They helped carry our stuff to the beach and then a lot of them were just helping shelter her from photos being taken of her."

Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Brian Watts also credited bystanders with saving both teen's lives.

"The key here is that the bystanders did very quick first aid the correct way," he said. Hooks defined that as calling 911, applying pressure to bleeding wounds and keeping victims warm, dry and comfortable.

Watts said both teenagers "have a really long road ahead."

Oak Island beaches are not staffed by lifeguards. Holloman, the town manager, said he didn't think lifeguards could have made a difference.

Town and county authorities are considering preventative measures, including handing out brochures to beach goers and suspending shark fishing, Holloman said.

"If you see dolphins or fish activity you might want to get out of the water and get away from that activity," he said. "If you see birds diving down, something could be feeding in that area."

Shark attacks off NC coast

Holloman described the attacks as abnormal for the area.

"Shark activity is high along the North Carolina coast in any coastal town but the events that happened yesterday are very rare," he said. "Oak Island is still a safe place. This is highly unusual."

According to data compiled by The Shark Research Institute, the last fatal shark attack off North Carolina's coast took place near Corolla in September 2009. A 60-year-old man was bitten while he swam at 9 p.m. The institute lists 11 fatal shark attacks since 1881 and 90 in all.

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* Some dates are approximate

(Source: Global Shark Attack File / The Shark Research Institute)

Sunday's incidents occurred just miles up the coast from Ocean Isle Beach, where a 13-year-old girl was bitten by a shark on Thursday.

That teen suffered lacerations on her right foot, but was not severely injured. Her boogie board had two large chunks taken out of it.

"She wobbled out and left the boogie board, and it just went after the boogie board," said Alexa Whittemore, who witnessed the attack.

Deputies using boats and helicopters to monitor the water after the attacks saw a 7-foot shark between where the incidents happened, sheriff John Ingram said.

Despite the attacks, Brunswick County beaches were open Monday, and swimmers were allowed in the water.

"There's no way we're going to stop people from going into the water," said Watts, the county emergency manager. "There's really no way to control that."

Natalia Morozova plans to keep her family out of the water.

"We've gone down here for years as a family tradition, to go to the beach and nothing like this has ever happened," she said. "So when it does, it makes you really think about it and take certain precautions."

Helicopters will patrol overhead to watch for sharks, and Watts offered these tips:

  • Pay attention to fish swimming patterns. If fish dart away, predators may be near.
  • Avoid fishing boats and anglers. Bait in the water can draw sharks.
  • Don't swim after heavy rains or in water that is dirty or murky.
  • Steer clear of dolphins and seabirds, which can be prey for sharks.
  • People with bleeding cuts or women who are menstruating should not go in the water.
  • Swim on sunny, clear days, and always swim with a buddy.

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  • Gene Stoeckley Jun 20, 2015
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    Fact: I have five years of studies in marine science and have forgotten more about elasmobranchs then you will possibly know in your lifetime. Fact: I never used the word insane in my post. I said your comment was inane. Two words two distinct meanings which obviously you did not understand indicates perhaps you my dear are in need of an education.

  • Angie Cox Jun 16, 2015
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    in case you didn't notice, I said I meant to put pouring buckets of blood, not water. and no it's NOT insane. they said in the story people who have cuts or women on their periods should NOT be in the water. so your telling me that throwing buckets of blood from the pier is insane? HA! get some education please!

  • Sean Creasy Jun 16, 2015
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    So let me get this straight...
    Their parents let them go in the water during the sea life's most active feeding time of the day on turtle shaped and colored objects, but it's the shark's fault? Hmmmm.......

  • Belinda Warrick Jun 16, 2015
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    @Kyle Jones actually at this time of year the sun doesn't set until around 9pm so 5pm it is still very bright outside. Dusk doesn't begin until well after 7pm. It is a common rule, or so I thought, that you don't swim within 75ft of a fishing pier. Also other rules are no flashy decoration on your swimsuit, don't wear jewelry that flashes or glitters with light, stay out of the water if you're menstruating for the sake of yourself as well as others, if you have a wound be sure to cover it with a waterproof and watertight bandage, stay away from birds feeding on the water, dolphins will actually repel any sharks, dolphins will ram the sharks. I am no expert so people do your own research and take my comment as just a suggestion.

  • Kyle Jones Jun 15, 2015
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    Glad they are recovering well. The time of day is also significant in these cases. 5pm is pushing it for safe swimming in the ocean. I'm shocked they didn't include that on the list of ocean tips.

  • Paul Blart Jun 15, 2015
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    Notice the uptick in attacks in the last 20 years?

  • Ben Sanders Jun 15, 2015
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    So they're both going to be all right?

  • Dan May Jun 15, 2015
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    Thank God for these individuals giving the young girl aid and comfort. There are decent people in the world. I hope both kids make as full of a recovery as is possible and put this behind them one day. Amanda, what a terrible thing to say...

  • Greg Smith Jun 15, 2015
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    Amanda, what an idiotic comment.

  • Rover Lesley Jun 15, 2015
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    If only we had waterproof firearms and open carry at the beach. C'mon Phil Berger, you are slipping. Use a little imagination to prop up your buddies in the guy lobby!