Local News

Seventh shark attack reported off NC coast; no pattern detected

Posted July 1, 2015 1:57 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2015 1:56 p.m. EDT

— A seventh person was bitten by a shark off the coast of North Carolina Wednesday afternoon.

A 68-year-old man from Cape Cod, Mass., whose name was not released, was bitten off the coast of Ocracoke Island, according to the National Park Service. He was last listed in serious condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

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

The man was able to swim himself close to shore where lifeguards helped him out of the water. The shark he encountered was grey in color and about six to seven feet long, officials said.

Emergency crews arrived at the scene and airlifted the man to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where he was listed in stable condition. No other swimmers were injured.

"When he was pulled out of the water I could see the wound," said witness Lynette Holman. "It was like a 5-inch gash above his knee."

Sarah Cline was in the water when she saw the man.

"When I got over there, he told me to get out of the water," said Cline, who lives in Chapel Hill. "Like, his swimming trunks were missing.

Cline also noticed that skin was missing from the man's leg. She got out of the water and ran down the beach, yelling for everyone to get out of the water.

"There were kids in the water, and they had boogie boards, and they were at risk too," she said.

Cline then returned to the man, who by then was surrounded by lifeguards and other beach goers. She held the man's hand, and wasn't worried about him hurting her.

"We're just very grateful to him, and I felt like the least I could do was to sit and hold his hand," she said.

Cline overheard others discuss the man's injuries - deep gashes from his hip to his calf, cuts on his stomach and a bloodied finger from when the man pried the shark from his leg.

"This guy's incredible," she said. "He was talking with me. He was joking with me. And I can't imagine how much pain he must have been in."

On Saturday, a 17-year-old boy was bitten by a shark in Rodanthe. The day before, a 47-year-old man was bitten about a mile north of the Avon Fishing Pier while he was swimming in a group.

The other four instances of shark bites last month all involved younger people farther south off the coast.

A girl was bitten by a shark and her boogie board torn apart at Ocean Isle Beach June 11.

The most serious injuries were suffered by a 12-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, each bitten June 14 about an hour apart off the coast of Oak Island. Each had an arm amputated.

An 8-year-old boy was bitten June 24 in Surf City, but his injuries were described as minor.

According to Justin Gibbs, the Hyde County emergency services director, extra emergency crews will be on standby through the holiday weekend.

"Going into July 4th weekend, we have upped our staffing on the island because of the celebration that occurs there annually," he said. "We also put a third ambulance on call. (This) is not something we handle on a frequent basis."