1998/08/26 Jonathan Kathrein - California -

Shark Attacks that happened in the years 1990 to 1999.

1998/08/26 Jonathan Kathrein - California -

Postby sharkbait » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:27 am

Victim turns experience of Stinson shark attack into lesson about life
Tad Whitaker

AUTHOR: Jonathan Kathrein, standing on Rodeo Beach, has written a children's book, 'Don't Fear the Shark,' which discusses sharks, the environment, and interpersonal relationships. Kathrein based his book on his experience of being attacked by a shark off Stinson Beach. IJ photo/Alan Dep

Jonathan Kathrein, who suffered wounds that took 200 stitches to close after a shark attack at Stinson Beach, is using the horrifying incident to help others.
Kathrein, a 24-year-old Berkeley resident who grew up in Lucas Valley, will have a children's book published next week that combines his experience in the jaws of a great white shark with his job as the founder of a nonprofit organization specializing in conflict resolution for children.

The text, along with a San Rafael friend's illustrations, will be part of his lectures about how to treat people and the environment better.

"The book looks at how our actions affect others," he said.

Kathrein's family moved from Illinois to Marin County when he was 6 years old. He attended Dixie Elementary School and Miller Creek Middle School before heading to high school at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco.

Kathrein said he enjoyed boogie-boarding at Stinson Beach on family trips and, after getting his driver's license, headed out with friends whenever possible.

"I started boogie-boarding almost every week," he said.

On Aug. 26, 1998, Kathrein and a buddy headed for Stinson even though his friend didn't have a wet suit. They both got in the water, but his friend went back to the beach after half an hour because of the cold water.

Kathrein said he was in about 6 feet of water, roughly 50 yards offshore from the Stinson Beach lifeguard tower, when he started swimming south against the current. While looking toward the beach, his right hand bonked into something that wasn't quite solid and wasn't soft either, but was definitely rough.

Kathrein turned his head for a look but didn't see anything. He continued swimming, but got nervous as his mind eliminated jellyfish and other possibilities based on what he felt.

"I turned to head into shore and kind of started to panic when I had a sixth sense something was in the water with me," he said.

Although lifeguards claim Kathrein started screaming seconds before the attack, he doesn't remember doing it. All he recalls is being slammed by a 12-foot shark from below his right side.

"I never imagined it would hit so hard," he said. "It was like getting hit by a boat."

The shark pushed Kathrein out of the water, clamped down on his right leg between the knee and hip, pulled him below the surface and began to swim away. Kathrein thought he was being eaten alive.

"I didn't know what it was going to do," he said. "I was worried it was going to pull my leg off."

As the shark swam with him dangling from its mouth, Kathrein opened his eyes but couldn't see much. He tried to wrap his arms around the shark, but its girth was too big.

Then, Kathrein saw the shark's gills and grabbed on. "The shark let go when I grabbed its gills," he said.

Kathrein immediately swam as hard as he could using his arms and left leg. The swim to the beach was more terrifying than the bite because he knew a shark was in the water - and what it could do.

"Now I knew how bad it was," he said.


made it into knee-deep water and people helped him to the sand. Lifeguards had called a helicopter by then.

He said his quadriceps was bitten clean in half and required an immediate seven-hour surgery at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. A trauma center nurse called his mother, Marge Kathrein, to let her know what was going on.

"At first I was completely in disbelief," said Marge Kathrein. "It took my breath away."

Marge Kathrein said she stood in the family home, utterly amazed at what had happened. She had taken him to that beach as a child, wading into the same waters close to shore.

"Even when your child is in an accident, you don't expect it to be a shark attack," she said.

Kathrein spent a week in the hospital and missed the first month of school. But he received a hero's welcome upon his return.

"Everyone stood up and started clapping," he said.

Kathrein enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated with a specialty in conflict resolution. Along the way, he told the shark story hundreds of times and realized he'd probably be telling it for the rest of his life.

After founding Future Leaders For Peace, a nonprofit that teaches children how to resolve conflicts without violence, Kathrein realized the shark attack could be a metaphor for his professional life. People had offered their boats so he could hunt down and kill the shark, but he knew that was the wrong thing to do.

"It wasn't the shark's fault," he said.

Kathrein called his friend Rob Singler Jr., a 24-year-old artist he'd grown up with, and pitched the idea for the book, titled "Don't Fear the Shark." Singler said Kathrein asked him to illustrate a rough story idea of a surfer in the water, a shark attack, reconnecting with family during the recovery, and setting an example by not blaming or killing the shark.

Singler, who finished the illustrations in a month, said he enjoyed the work because the project avoids the light, fluffy nature of most children's books.

"The basic idea was to get his idea outside the typical children's book box," he said.

Kathrein's mom said it makes her feel good knowing her son's attack will inspire children to create a better world.

"I have to really give credit to Jonathan," she said.

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Postby sharkbait » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:31 pm

Shark attacks teen off Calif. coast

Injured boy
August 27, 1998
Web posted at: 5:07 p.m. EDT (2107 GMT)
STINSON BEACH, California (CNN) -- A 16-year-old boogie- boarder attacked by a great white shark survived by grabbing the beast's gill slit and pulling until it released his thigh, witnesses said.

Hospital officials said Jonathan Kathrein of Terra Linda was in fair condition Thursday after he received stitches for a foot-long gash in his thigh.

Kathrein was bitten by the shark Wednesday, as he rode the waves about 50 yards off Stinson Beach. The popular park just north of San Francisco also happens to be a gathering place for seals and sea lions, favorite prey for great white sharks.

"His friends heard him screaming. They turned around to see him being pulled under," said Chris Powell, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

After fighting off the shark, the boy managed to climb back onto his board before friends and lifeguards pulled him to shore. Witnesses said he was in shock.

"He was very brave," said Marge Kathrein, who talked with her son by phone before surgery. "He said, 'I'm OK, Mom, but my leg really hurts.'"

Shark experts said that the behavior of the shark that attacked Kathrein, feeding so close to the surface, indicates that it was probably a great white.

Witnesses said that the shark was about 10 feet long.

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Postby sharkbait » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:32 pm

Presented to Jonathan Kathrein
Attack by shark taught him to treasure life
Shelah Moody, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, June 10, 2007

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At 25, Jonathan Kathrein has had his share of terrifying experiences. When he was a 16-year-old student at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, Kathrein nearly died after being attacked by a great white shark at Stinson Beach. When he was 24, Kathrein emerged unharmed from an armed robbery while working at a coffee shop in Berkeley.

As an inspirational speaker who heads a nonprofit organization, Future Leaders for Peace, Kathrein travels the world talking to children and adults about conflict resolution skills. He has taught in classrooms in the Bay Area, Hawaii, Great Britain and China. In 2006, at the suggestion of his mentor, Michael Pritchard, Kathrein wrote and published a children's book called "Don't Fear the Shark" (BookSurge, 2006), which offers lessons on protecting the environment and living in harmony with nature. The book takes its cue from Kathrein's life-changing experience after the shark attack that late summer day in August 1998. Kathrein blames inexperience as well as other reasons for the attack. "I was actually born in Illinois," said Kathrein. "My family moved out here when I was 6. We didn't know a lot about the ocean. Even as a little kid in Illinois, I was fascinated by surfing. When I got out here and I was old enough to start exploring the ocean on my own, I did. My parents didn't know too much more about it than I did. One of the things that they didn't know was that we're in the red triangle here in the Bay Area, which is an increment where there are more great white shark attacks than anywhere else in the world."

Kathrein also did not know that August was shark season when he headed to Stinson Beach the day before school started.

"It was pretty quiet at the beach. I went boogie boarding with my friend Sean. We were pretty new to all the surf and boogie-boarding stuff, so he was planning on renting a wetsuit when he got to the beach. As it turns out, he couldn't rent a wetsuit because he didn't have a credit card. ... So I was really paddling along by myself at Stinson Beach, straight up to the lifeguard tower, when my hand hit something under water. I had been watching Sean up on the beach, so I took a split second to turn my head and look.

"It seems sort of odd to me, because I had seen seals and jellyfish in the past, and most of those things sort of sit around after you've hit them. I said to myself, what else could it be? It took me just a second or two to think, well, I guess it could be a shark. I turned and started heading for the shore. As quickly as I could turn and start kicking and paddling my arms, I was hit extremely hard on my right side by a 12-foot great white shark.

"When it hit me, it was like getting hit by a car with razor blades on the front. It sunk into my leg, held on, and started swimming with me under water."

The shark finally released him and despite his injuries, Kathrein made it back to the shore, where a boy his age helped pull him in. He was taken by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where surgeons later said they stopped counting after 400 stitches. The shark had severed three of the four major muscles in his leg.

Kathrein now bears a half circle on the front and back of "my leg that resembles the front of a shark's mouth."

During his recuperation, Kathrein became more aware of the importance of his relationships with his friends and his family. He remains close to his parents, Margaret and Reed Kathrein, his brothers, Michael, 22, and Eric, 19, and his longtime girlfriend, Gabrielle Dembski. For Kathrein, living life to the fullest means not wasting any time or leaving relationships unrepaired. He treats people the way he'd like to be treated.

"I also realized how fragile life was," said Kathrein. "At 16, growing up in Marin County, I thought that I'd live a long life and someday retire with kids and that sort of thing. I didn't realize that at 16, that could be it; that it could be over that quickly. I decided that I really wanted to live life to the fullest. You hear that a lot, but when you realize that life is not guaranteed, it really does affect the way that you live."

In 2004, Kathrein graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in American Studies, and he and a group of his peers established Future Leaders for Peace.

"We see so much of what's happening to the kids -- the conflicts and challenges that they are facing. We're in the perfect position to inform their parents about what's going on in their lives. Because the kids know that we are not there as teachers, they are more willing to open up to us because they are not worried about their grades being affected."

Kathrein's conflict resolution skills helped him keep his cool when he found himself in the middle of a robbery one morning when he was working at Peet's coffee in Berkeley and two men confronted him and his co-workers with handguns.

"I thought to myself, these people are just like anyone else, and if I treat them with kindness and respect, the way I teach kids to do, then hopefully, they'll do the same to me," said Kathrein. "I decided to smile, treat them as kindly as I possibly could. Although they did have handguns, they were just as nice as any other customers. They never touched me, they never pushed me, and they never threatened me. When they left, they said, 'don't follow us.' "

That incident motivated Kathrein even more to continue his work with Future Leaders for Peace

"I love the quote by Gandhi, 'Be the change that you want to see in the world,' " said Kathrein. "What it's all about, to me, is taking a look at your life and your surroundings. If you see something wrong, fix it. It's not up to anyone else to fix it; it's not someone else's responsibility. It's your job to make the world a better place for you and for everyone else."

For information visit: http://www.futureleadersforpeace.org and http://www.dontfeartheshark.com.

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