Local News

Parents of girl bitten by shark say she has long road to recovery

Posted June 16, 2015 5:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 17, 2015 6:02 a.m. EDT

— The family of a 12-year-old girl whose left arm was bitten off in a shark attack on the North Carolina coast on Sunday said she remains in stable condition and has a long road to recovery.

Kiersten Yow, of Archdale, is being treated at N.C. Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill. She was one of two teenagers who lost limbs after they were attacked off Oak Island. Yow also suffered leg injuries in the attack.

“She has a long road to recovery that will include surgeries and rehabilitation, but her doctors at UNC expect she will keep her leg, and for that we are grateful,” said her parents, Brian and Laurie Yow, in a statement released by the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

Kiersten Yow was attacked near the Ocean Crest Pier just before 5 p.m. About an hour later, Hunter Treschl, 16, of Colorado Springs, Colo., lost his left arm after he was attacked near the 55th Street beach access. Both teenagers were in waist-deep water about 20 yards from shore, officials said.

Dr. Borden Hooks, who operated on both teenagers at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, described Treschl's injury as a "clean transection" of his left arm. Surgeons amputated above Treschl’s elbow, and he was awake and talking Monday afternoon.

Treschl, in a video posted on the Wilmington hospital's YouTube page on Tuesday, said he's staying positive about losing his arm.

"I have kinda two options," he said. "I can try to live my life the way I was and make an effort to do that even though I don’t have my arm or I can kind of just let it be completely debilitating and bring my life down and ruin it in a way. Out of those two there’s really only one that I would actually choose to and that’s to fight and live a normal life with the cards I’m dealt."

In other clips, Treschl described what the shark attack was like and talked about his experience in the emergency room.

Kiersten Yow’s parents credited bystanders with saving their daughters’ life.

“We want to thank the good Samaritans and emergency responders whose clear heads and quick actions saved Kiersten’s life,” they said. “We also thank her extraordinary doctors and nurses in Wilmington and Chapel Hill. This has been an extraordinarily traumatic event for our entire family. We need time and space to come to terms with what has happened and to help Kiersten recover.”

Sunday’s attacks occurred a few 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.

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.