Bull shark bites boy, 14, in Gulf surf Family was fishing off Mustang Island
MUSTANG ISLAND — He said that he had a better chance of being struck by lightning than getting attacked by a shark, but unfortunately for 14-year-old Shawn Hamilton, he beat the odds.
It started as a weekend fishing trip for the Hamilton family, but the San Antonio residents had to cut it short when Shawn was attacked by a shark July 7 near Mustang Island.
He was in waist-deep water on the second sandbar off shore near Beach Access Road 2 between Port Aransas and Corpus Christi when the attack occurred.
"It's pretty weird how I got away with a couple of bites and I still have my foot," he said. "It's really weird that it happened to me."
Kevin Hamilton, Shawn's father, said that they do their best to not attract any unwanted attention while fishing.
They don't use a stringer in the surf, and they take every fish they catch back to the beach and put it in an ice chest.
"We're a fishing family, and we understand that every time we step foot in the water, there is a possibility of something like that happening," Hamilton said. "(You're) part of the food chain once you get out there. We try to take all the necessary precautions."
The International Shark Attack File, a global database on shark attacks, asks that individuals who experience or witness a shark attack fill out a questionnaire about the incident.
In Shawn's report, it states that he yelled "Shark!" several times as he saw what appeared to be a 5-foot bull shark approaching him on the water's surface.
Shawn was jumping around trying to fend off the shark, and he was bit on his right foot and shin.
"It was really like a sharp knife just going through your skin," Shawn said. "You don't feel it that much, but you knew it was there."
Shawn and his father had assumed he had caught the shark, but they came to the conclusion that he did not, nor did he catch a fish the shark was chasing.
"I was reeling in my bait just making sure the line was tight," Shawn said. "All of a sudden, I see this shark come at me. ... I felt it pound against my leg and I started jumping up and down."
Hamilton thought his son was shouting because he was scared by seeing a shark swim by.
"I never knew an attack was going on. I thought he was in panic," he said.
After the attack, Hamilton and his wife, Ronda, took Shawn to the beach, poured a gallon of distilled water on the wounds, wrapped two beach towels around his foot and leg and took him to Corpus Christi Medical Center.
He received 54 stitches, which were removed last week.
Shawn said that he can't feel the right side of his foot where the shark bit him. Hamilton said it is unknown if that feeling will return.
"That might regenerate; that might not. It might be a reminder for rest of (his) life for what happened that day," Hamilton said.
Shawn said his parents handled the situation well because they stayed calm, which made it easier for him to do the same.
"At the hospital (my mom) started taking pictures of my cuts and started smiling," he said. "She was like, 'It's a good story to tell all the girls at school.'"
Hamilton said he is proud of the way his son handled the attack.
"The biggest deal in my son's case is that he fought it, kicked at it. He didn't just stay there and say, 'Here, get me,'" Hamilton said. "I think the shark decided he didn't want to mess with him anymore; he just swam off."
This isn't the first time a shark bite has occurred in Nueces County, though attacks are rare. According to the International Shark Attack File, this is the 11th report of an unprovoked shark attack in the county since 1911.
Also on July 7, the Victoria Advocate reported that a 12-year-old boy was attacked by a shark near Port O'Connor. He was attacked at 5:15 p.m., and Hamilton said his son was attacked at 4:30 p.m.
Shawn considers himself lucky that he survived the attack with minimal injuries, and he feels bad for the 12-year-old boy who was attacked 45 minutes after him.
"I feel really lucky," he said. "I have stronger faith now because God was watching over me, and he was protecting me."