First New Jersey Shark Attack In 30 Years
By Eyewitness News' Jeff Rossen
(Surf City, New Jersey -WABC, June 8, 2005) Â— It was the first shark attack in more than three decades in New Jersey. A 17 year-old surfer was in shallow water when he felt something bite his ankle. It happened in Surf City, New Jersey.
Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Rossen talked to the victim and joins us live with the story.
Perfect timing right? Nice weather, families coming to the beach for the summer and here we are again talking about a shark attack - in this case the victim says he was about 25 feet out when he fell off his surf board. Experts now say they think it was a shark that came and bit his leg.
Ryan Horton, Shark Attack Victim: "It felt like a baseball bat that cam and whacked my foot, ans then I looked over at it and there was this huge chunk missing."
He's so matter-of-fact about it. Ryan Horton, only 17-years-old, he was bleeding in the water with only one useful leg, and he paddled to shore hoping the shark wouldn't come back.
Ryan Horton: "It runs from here to there, and then there's a little one that goes right underneath the anklebone there. This one's down to the bone, this one's just like a little cut."
Ryan's mother emailed a picture of the wound to a shark expert in Florida who confirmed that this is a shark bite, most likely, he says, a young Great White, about six feet long.
Ryan Horton: "They're more scared of us than we are of them. The reason that I think it had gotten me was maybe because I was disturbing its territory. I saw two perfect 'v's that could have been shark teeth and the expert in Florida, he's seen three, so that's how I definitely knew it was a shark."
It's nothing new. Sharks swim off the Jersey shore, always have. But attacks are rare. This is the first in New Jersey in 30 years. There have been only 16 attacks in state history.
Today we checked the beach in the exact spot of the attack and people are back in the water.
Beach-goer: "It's only one case in 30 years, you have to live your life. You can't be worried about all these little things."
Beach-goer: "Yeah I'll let her (my daughter) go in but I'll keep a close eye on her."
Ryan's leg is all bandaged up. He'll need crutches for a few weeks and physical therapy. He'll walk again but doctors can't promise a full recovery.
Jeff Rossen: "Do you want to surf again?"
Ryan Horton: "Maybe next year. I'll think about it next year, but not this year."
I can't blame him. The surfers here in Surf City are out again. We should tell you there has been some controvery over whether this was really a shark attack. Local police here are not convinced, but one again that shark expert is, regardless Ryan is home tonight just happy to have his leg and happy to have his life.