Hutchinson Island may have its first shark bite victim of the year
By TYLER TREADWAY & WILL GREENLEE
Posted May 5 2006, 10:25 AM EDT
HUTCHINSON ISLAND -- A Port St. Lucie woman was bitten, possibly by a shark, about 4 p.m. Thursday 500 to 700 yards offshore, directly across from the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.
Rachel King suffered two cuts, one about 8 inches long, the other about 10 inches, on her lower right leg, said Mike Collins, one of two Fort Pierce men with her at the time of the incident.
Collins said he, King and David Martin were in a boat "just out enjoying the beautiful weather" when they decided to go for a swim in the ocean. Collins said he jumped in first and returned to the boat as King and Martin dove into the water.
"(King) wasn't in 10 seconds before she started screaming, 'I got bit! I got bit!' " Collins said.
When King got back to the boat, Collins and Martin used a towel to stop the bleeding. They tried to go for help but the boat engine wouldn't start.
"So we called the Coast Guard right away," Collins said.
Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Fort Pierce and emergency staff from the St. Lucie County Fire District arrived and treated King for what Capt. Brian Blizzard, spokesman for the fire district, called "small lacerations" and "puncture-like wounds."
King was taken by boat to the station and by ambulance to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute, said Petty Officer Jonta Cromartie.
A helicopter with St. Lucie County Air Rescue was sent to the scene, Blizzard said, but was called away when the injury was determined to be minor.
"They might call (the injuries) minor," Collins said, "but not from my perspective, the skin was cut open like a butterfly shrimp."
It was the first possible shark bite reported this year in St. Lucie County.
On Jan. 4, a surfer was bitten on the right wrist and hand by a 4-foot shark about 75 yards from shore just south of Round Island Park in Indian River County, and a Miami man was bitten on the left foot by a 2- to 3-foot shark Nov. 21 while surfing just north of Jensen Beach Park.
This spring, offshore fishermen along the Treasure Coast have reported an increase in shark sightings, which biologists said coincides with the marine predators' spring mating season.
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