Labor Day beachgoers in Virginia spooked after shark attack kills 10-year-old boy
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) – Some wary beachgoers stayed on shore and authorities patrolled waters Sunday where a shark killed a 10-year-old boy, the first fatal shark attack in the United States this year.
The attack Saturday evening was the first in the area in 30 years.
”I’d rather give the shark a little time to get further down the coast,” said Debbie Morris, 39, of Virginia Beach, who refused to allow her 11-year-old daughter into the water.
David Peltier of Richmond suffered a 17-inch gash to his left leg and lost large amounts of blood from a severed artery. He died Sunday morning in a Norfolk hospital.
David was bitten while surfing with his father and two brothers in about 4 feet of water about 150 feet from shore off Sandbridge Beach, said Ed Brazle, division chief for the city’s Emergency Medical Services.
Richard Peltier spotted the shark and shouted to his three sons who were in the water. Peltier, a welder, hauled David onto his surfboard as the two older boys ran to shore, witnesses said.
The shark brushed Peltier’s leg then lunged at David, who was freed from its jaws after his father hit the shark on its head. Richard Peltier then paddled to shore with his son, where witnesses and lifeguards administered first aid to the boy. Richard Peltier was treated for a hand injury.
Richard Peltier’s brother, James, told The Virginian-Pilot he was not surprised by Richard’s actions.
”He’s very strong,” James Peltier said. ”He always has his head about him in emergencies.”
The family refused interview requests and asked the hospital not to release details about David’s injury or treatment.
Linda Garren, whose daughter, Dana, was one of David Peltier’s classmates, said she was stunned.
”I’m really sad for the family,” Garren said. ”I can’t even imagine how they might be feeling right now. My prayers and my thoughts go out to them because it could’ve been my daughter.”
Sandbridge Beach is a remote coastal community of elevated vacation homes within the city of Virginia Beach. The beach was closed after the attack but Virginia Beach officials reopened it Sunday morning.
More than 40 EMS divers and a Jet Ski patrolled the beach, said Bruce Edwards, director of the city’s Emergency Medical Services. The patrols were to continue Monday.
Scientists with the city’s Virginia Marine Science Museum flew over the beaches in a police helicopter but didn’t spot any sharks. Authorities did not know what kind of shark attacked the boy, but said it likely was a sandbar shark, which typically are about 5 feet long and not normally aggressive
Several hundred people were at the southern end of the Sandbridge shore Sunday afternoon, but only a few were surfing and swimming near where David was attacked.
”Now that I know, I wouldn’t get back in the water,” said James Whitaker, 15, of Durham, N.C., who had been swimming with his boogie board.
Dorothy Jarrett, 39, of Virginia Beach, surveyed the crowd and said: ”You can tell it scared a lot of people away.”
But while some sunbathers admitted they were wary, others said they were sticking to the sand simply because of the yellow caution flags indicating rough waters.
There have been 49 shark attacks worldwide this year, with one fatal in Brazil, said George Burgess of the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla. Twenty-eight have been in Florida waters.
The 8-year-old boy attacked in July off Florida’s Gulf Coast had his arm severed in a bull shark attack. Jessie Arbogast’s arm was reattached but he remains in a light coma.
Two Americans also were attacked by sharks this summer in the Bahamas, and one’s leg had to be amputated.
Last year, there were 84 shark attacks worldwide, 53 in the United States, Burgess said.
On the Net:
The International Shark Attack File: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Sharks/ISAF/ISAF.htm
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