Haitian fisherman survives shark attack
In a country where surfing is virtually non-existent, shark attacks are very rare. Even so, there are those moments where Turks and Caicos is reminded that it shares the ocean with the infamous predators.
On Sunday, June 19th, one diver was reminded of this when he went spear fishing and had an encounter with one, which he will undoubtedly remember for the rest of his life. Ceford Lewis, age 25, was more fortunate than many in his encounter with a shark, which he described to be nearly five feet in length. Though this size shows that the shark was relatively young, it still managed to take a chunk out of the right calf of the young man.
Due to the fact that Ceford was not fluent in English, his older brother Joeselyn Pierre acted as a translator as well as a witness to the attack, in an interview with the SUN. “If it was a tiger shark, I would never see my brother again,” he said.
Lewis had been spear fishing near French Cay, which is nearly an hour away from Providenciales by boat, when the attack happened. Joeselyn Pierre said he saw the shark hoist his brother in the air before pulling him back under. Luckily the other diver managed to get a shot on the shark, giving Ceford the opportunity to swim back to the boat. Helped by his brother, Ceford managed to get back on the boat, though the shark was still attached to his leg, refusing to let go. After Joeselyn removed the shark, he wrapped his brother’s leg as best as he could, then made his way back to Providenciales; forced to travel slower to avoid causing his brother unnecessary pain.
Ceford was fortunate. Managing to make it to the hospital in time to get surgery, Ceford was glad that he survived the encounter, even making a joke about it.
“This was the first Sunday that I went fishing; I didn’t go to church, and I got bitten by a shark. God is good,” he said. Doctor Tim Callaghan remarked on the condition of Ceford as he entered the hospital; describing him as being semi-conscious and losing approximately 40% of his blood when he arrived.
Ceford had to be resuscitated before entering the operating theater. Due to the nature of the injury, the surgery had to occur in stages, through the span of a few days. The surgery involved removing infected or dead tissue, a blood transfusion, then sealing the wound. Luckily for Ceford, he did not have to have his leg amputated. Even though the man arrived in such poor condition, doctors are confident that he will have a good recovery though it will take a few months before he is fully recovered.
This is the first shark attack victim to be treated in the new hospital facility due to the rarity of shark attacks in the Turks and Caicos; which has no surfers to be mistakenly identified. The speculation is that the attack occurred because of the fact that the men were spear fishing, which results in increased shark presence due to blood in the water. Though swimmers and divers should always be cautious, they should not be deterred from swimming because of this attack.
By David Newlands