Two youths lost limbs in separate, successive shark attacks Sunday in Oak Island, N.C.
Local officials announced Sunday that at approximately 4:12 p.m. a 12-year-old girl was attacked by a shark along Oak Island beach, sustaining serious injuries. At approximately 5:51 p.m., a 16-year-old boy was attacked by a shark in a separate incident.
Martha Harlan, a spokeswoman for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in North Carolina, said both were airlifted to the hospital that afternoon. Harlan said in a phone interview that both arrived at the hospital in critical condition and were in fair condition as of approximately 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. She said both victims had parts of their left arm amputated—below the elbow for the girl and below the shoulder for the boy. The girl also suffered lower-left-leg tissue damage but Harlan said she has not heard that the leg needs amputation. Both the victims were visiting from out of town, Harlan said.
In a press conference Sunday, Oak Island Town Manager Tim Holloman said Brunswick County and Oak Island are working together to assess the situation. Holloman said marine and helicopter support are being used to monitor the area.
An Oak Island beach goer, Steve Bouser, told the Star News Online that he saw the first attack unfold Sunday afternoon. He said he heard people yelling “get out of the water, get out of the water.”
“I saw someone carry this girl (out of the water) and people were swarming around trying to help,” Bouser told the Associated Press. “It was quite terrible.”
“It was so much like a scene from Jaws,” Bouser’s wife, Brenda, added, according to the AP.
Both Harlan and Oak Island Town Manager Tim Holloman said shark attacks of this nature are uncommon.
“Oak Island is still a safe place; we’re monitoring the situation,” Holloman said, according to the Star News Online. “This is highly unusual.”
Harlan said while she didn’t have exact figures regarding the number of attacks the hospital sees annually, most incidents are “usually very minor.”
“Shark attacks like these are very rare,” she said.
Holloman said during the press conference that the beaches will remain open Monday but he encourages people to stay on land.
This is the third shark attack in Brunswick County in the past week, Fox 5 San Diego reported. A 13-year-old girl was attacked Thursday of last week while boogie boarding, but sustained only minor injuries.
George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told Star News Online that he has only ever seen successive shark attacks like Sunday’s twice before in his 4 decades of studying sharks: once in Florida 15 to 20 years ago and once in Egypt three or four years ago.
According to the statistics compiled by the museum, North Carolina has seen 25 shark attacks since 2005 — none of them were fatal.