Shark surprises Viera man
BY JOE PAGAN • FLORIDA TODAY • June 16, 2008
VIERA -- After surfing for 40 years, many times at Cocoa Beach, the last thing John Vasbinder thought about was sharks —until one introduced itself a few days ago.
Vasbinder, district vice president of the Central Florida YMCA, was lying on his surf board June 7, paddling back to the lineup to catch another wave, when his hand hit something.
Or, that was what he thought anyway. Turns out, something hit his hand — and took some of it away.
“I thought I hit a dolphin or a turtle or something until I looked at my hand,” Vasbinder said. “The skin on my palm was peeled back in three places and a couple of my finger tips were bleeding.”
Vasbinder, meet shark.
The shark, possibly a bull shark based on where the attack took place, came up from behind Vasbinder, catching him by surprise.
“I never saw it coming,” Vasbinder said. “In 40 years of surfing, this is my first scratch.”
His wife, Toni Vasbinder, who was sitting on the beach, took John to Premier Urgent Care, 6300 N. Wickham Road, Suite 101, Melbourne.
Vasbinder said Dr. Steve Badalato told him it was the third time in four months he had patched up a victim of a shark bite from that spot in Cocoa Beach.
It took 45 stitches to sew up Vasbinder’s hand. The stictches are supposed to be removed Tuesday.
For now, Vasbinder is a bit of a celebrity among his colleagues at work.
“Actually, yeah. I’m to the point that I now say a dog bit me because they don’t want to believe a shark bit me,” Vasbinder said.
“A lot of them are really surprised. It’s very unusual to have interaction with sharks in Cocoa Beach.
As for the bite itself, Vasbinder said it didn’t hurt until he got to the hospital and the doctor put the anti-infection salve on his hand. Then, it burned, he said.
Vasbinder, 59, sees the whole thing in a positive light.
First, it was his right hand, but Vasbinder is left-handed. So, “It worked out great,” he said.
Second, since the chances of being bitten by a shark are so remote, and being bitten a second time is even more unlikely, Vasbinder is feeling pretty confident he is safe from future attacks.
“A couple of my surfing budding come over and I say lightning doesn’t strike twice, so I’m good for another 40 years.”
Contact Pagan at 242-3669 or email@example.com
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