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Man recovering from 'frightening and painful' shark attack off NC coast

A 68-year-old man who was bitten by a shark Wednesday afternoon off Ocracoke Island said he feels "fortunate" to have survived the encounter.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A 68-year-old man who was bitten by a shark Wednesday afternoon off Ocracoke Island said he feels “fortunate” to have survived the encounter.

"I’m recovering after a frightening and painful shark attack," Andrew Costello said in a statement. "I feel very fortunate to have survived thanks to the incredible assistance I received from medical personnel on the beach, both those on duty and vacation."

Officials said the attack happened at about 12:30 p.m while Costello was swimming directly in front of the lifeguard stand in waist-deep water. He was pulled underwater by the shark, and received injuries to his rib cage, hip, lower leg and both hands.

Costello, who remains hospitalized at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, said he is focused on his recovery and asked for privacy.

Dr. Eric Toschlog, chief of trauma and acute care surgery at Vidant Medical Center, described Costello's injuries as "major, but non-lethal."

"While his injuries will require multiple additional operations, as of July 2, he has been upgraded to good condition," Toschlog said in a statement.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday he is more worried about safety than tourism this holiday weekend following seven shark attacks along the North Carolina coast.

While safety officials are working to find patterns in the series of recent shark attacks, McCrory said he doubts there's a single safety response.

"Just use your common sense, listen to what the lifeguards and other local authorities are saying, and recognize that there are certain areas where we are having these bites," he said. "Just use your common sense, especially if you're in or around a fishing area, at this point in time that seems to be the primary focus."

McCrory says local governments could consider restrictions on luring sharks to fishing hooks around areas where people swimming, especially during the summer tourist season.

"I do believe that each local beach has its own unique circumstances," he said. "I am going to talk to my secretary of (the Department) Public Safety to see if there is any one-fit-all approach to dealing with the issue."

He also stressed if any state response is needed over the weekend, the resources would be there.

The holiday weekend started Thursday for many families vacationing in Kill Devil Hills. Officials said extra crews will be available to respond to any emergencies, but overall, they have not seen an impact on tourism.

"We prepare for whatever hazards are out there," Kill Devil Kills Fire Chief Troy Tilley said. "If we see a problem or anything like that, we will identify it and make the swimmers aware of the problem and remove them from the area."

On Oak Island, town leaders encouraged people to enjoy the beach and take a swim.

Town Manager Tim Holloman said there have been no plans to ban fishing on the beach, despite the two serious shark attacks on June 14.

According to Holloman, the town has not enacted any new ordnances in response to the shark attacks, but said the sheriff's office will do "flyovers" this weekend.


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