Surfer treated for suspected shark attack off Sandbridge
The waves weren’t so hot as Caleb Kauchak and his friends paddled out off Sandbridge on Friday. So the 18-year-old decided to goad Poseidon, the sea god in Greek mythology, into sending some better surf.
“Smite me, oh mighty Poseidon!” he shouted.
The response he got wasn’t the one he was expecting. A s he stood in chest-deep water next to his surfboard, Kauchak felt a searing pain as something took a bite out of his ankle. He jumped onto his board and felt another wave of pain as the creature clamped down on his knee, he said.
When it let go, Kauchak said he paddled to shore as fast as he could , limped onto the beach, plopped down in the sand and looked at his shredded flesh .
He didn’t get a good look at his attacker, but he’s pretty sure it was a shark. Medics confirmed his injuries are consistent with those a small shark would inflict.
If it was , it would mark the first shark bite reported in Virginia Beach since 2007, when one bit a curator in the leg in a pool at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. In 2001, a shark fatally attacked a 10-year-old boy a few blocks from where Kauchak was bitten Friday.
Only four shark attacks have ever been recorded in Virginia waters, according to the International Shark File on the Florida Museum of Natural History website.
Medics got the call around 4:20 p.m. Friday and responded to the beach near the 3300 block of Sandfiddler Road, said Bruce Nedelka, a division chief and spokesman for the Department of Emergency Medical Services. Until then, there hadn’t been any shark sightings or incidents in the city this summer, he said.
Vince Minnich, who is visiting Virginia Beach from Ohio, said he was sitting on the deck of his beachfront rental when he saw Kauchak’s friends running from the water. He called 911 and grabbed towels to wrap Kauchak’s injuries.
“He had cuts straight across his knee, just a good chunk of meat ripped out of him,” he said. But “he was conscious the whole time.”
Paramedics took Kauchak to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where he was recovering Friday evening. During an interview from his hospital bed, he said he’d probably just need stitches.
“It was the worst pain of my life,” he said. But “I’m not going to be paralyzed, so I’m good.”
Kauchak’s surfing companion, Tyler Christopher, 19, said he was also attacked, but emerged with just a ripped swimsuit.
“You’ve got a good story, and I’ve got some shorts to frame,” he said to Kauchak . Plus, “chicks dig scars.”
Kauchak said his encounter won’t keep him out of the water. He’ll surf again, just probably not in Sandbridge .
“I still don’t believe it,” he said . “I feel lucky in the fact that I’m not losing a leg or paralyzed.”
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