Shark attacks teen off Boca Grande
Published by news-press.com on July 1, 2005
Lee County emergency technicians transfer a shark bite victim into Lee Memorial Hospital Friday afternoon. The victim was attacked by a shark off the shore of Boca Grande and was transported to the hospital by helicopter. GARTH FRANCIS/news-press.com
By GRANT BOXLEITNER, email@example.com
& SARAH LUNDY, firstname.lastname@example.org
A 19-year-old Austrian tourist attacked while swimming off Boca Grande has five to seven lacerations on his right ankle consistent with a single shark bite, his doctor announced at 4 p.m. in Lee Memorial Hospital.
Armin Trojer, of Baden, Austria, will undergo surgery at 5 p.m. to repair major tendons and vessels around the foot and ankle, Dr. Anthony Dalley said at a press conference.
Â“It appears that he has several large wounds, fairly jagged in nature and fairly deep, which would fit a shark bite,Â” said Dalley, an emergency room physician in the trauma center.
The lacerations are 5 to 7 inches deep, but TrojerÂ’s prognosis is good, Dalley said. He should have no problem walking again.
The attack occurred this morning near the lighthouse at Gasparilla Island Beach.
Trojer was upright in the water when he was bitten, said Lee County sheriffÂ’s spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi.
Â“It is a confirmed shark attack,Â” LiMarzi said. Â“Someone else in the water saw a shark.Â”
Dalley said Trojer did not see what got him, but felt something grab on to his ankle and let go.
He realized he was bleeding and started making his way to shore, Dalley said, relaying TrojerÂ’s story. The teenager called to his father, who helped him out of the water and onto the beach.
Â“I think heÂ’s fairly lucky,Â” Dalley said. Â“He appears to have a single bite.Â”
When he arrived at the hospital, his leg was splinted and he had pressure bandages to prevent more blood loss.
Surgeon Brian Burg will operate.
Witnesses say Trojer was hopping and had a bloody foot when he came ashore. Apparently, he didnÂ’t know if heÂ’d been bit by a shark or a jelly fish.
Aaron Denson, 14, vacationing from Missouri, was swimming near the lighthouse with his cousin and aunt when he saw the man coming out of the water.
Denson ran to his vacation rental to get help while others called 911. He returned with his uncle and his cousin, Mindy Denson, 21, who brought a small first aid kit.
Â“When we got down there, I thought 'this isnÂ’t going to cut it,'Â” Mindy Denson said.
Another woman on the beach had already wrapped a towel around his ankle, which was bleeding heavily.
Paramedics arrived and loaded him on a stretcher, then transported him by helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital.
At 4 p.m., a trail of blood remained in the sand, running from the water about 50 feet toward the lighthouse.
News of the attack spread quickly on the small island.
Selina Stephens, 46, is a bartender at South Beach Bar and Grill.
Â“As soon as we saw the fire trucks go by, we wanted to know what was happening,Â” Stephens said.
Cell phones started ringing. Nextels starting beeping.
Â“We knew within minutes what happened,Â” she said.
Hours later, the story of the shark bite has grown. People are talking about how the man lost his leg, the shark ate a 3-year-old and now, two girls are missing, Stephens said.
LiMarzi said deputies notified people on the beach about what happened but did not close the beach to swimmers.
The attack is the third off the coast of Florida recently. A 14-year-old Louisiana girl was killed near Pensacola last month when a shark attacked her while she was swimming with friends. Three days later, a 16-year-old boy from Tennessee was bitten and critically injured near Panama City.
Experts believed bull sharks attacked both teens in the Florida Panhandle. The type of shark involved in the Boca Grande attack was not immediately determined.
Experts point out that shark attacks are rare, pointing out that there were only 30 in 2003 among the millions of people who hit the stateÂ’s beaches. Most of those attacks were minor bites on the feet or ankles. Last year, when four hurricanes kept many visitors away, there were 12 attacks.