Shark attack victim returns to work
RANCHO BERNARDO ---- Julie Glance is determined not to let a life-threatening encounter with a shark ruin her life.
Ten days ago, the 34-year-old Rancho Bernardo woman was swimming off the waters of western Maui, Hawaii, when she was attacked by a shark believed to be 8 to 10 feet long. Glance survived the attack, but suffered severe wounds on her right arm.
On Tuesday, Glance, chief executive officer at the Grossmont Schools Federal Credit Union, decided to return to work even though doctors say it would take at least 12 to 18 months of physical therapy before she regains full use of her right arm. Glance, who attended a budget meeting at her office, said she plans to work part time for the next several weeks.
In the meantime, she will need to balance a demanding career with excruciating pain from a tender shoulder and wounded hand. Several dozen stitches were sewn into her shoulders and underarm, while her forearm and hand are wrapped in a large padded cast.
"I'm the CEO and I want to make sure everybody knows that I'm OK," said Glance, who heads a staff of 12 and a credit union that handles 5,000 customers. "I think it is important as a leader that you are on site and able to direct your staff."
Her co-workers said they are impressed by her quick return.
"I'm am very amazed that she is able to come back to work," said Eileen Sparks, the credit union's vice president of operations. "She is a very strong woman and I'm sure she'll be able to do fine."
Her determination to work also helped save her life during the attack, she said.
It all began on a quiet Sunday morning in Kaanapali, a Maui beach resort town where Glance was vacationing with her husband, two small children and parents, she said. The family had been to Maui several times before. This time, they decided to stay at the Embassy Vacation Resorts, which is near an area known as Old Airport Beach.
It was shortly before 10:45 a.m. when Glance, a lifelong triathlete, decided to go for a swim alone. Clad in a bathing suit and swimming cap, she headed into the warm, gentle surf. Although it was sunny, there was hardly anyone in the crystal blue waters except for a few bodyboarders, she said.
Glance was about 100 yards from shore when she kicked her swim fins and turned right, parallel to the beach.
"I had no idea the shark was coming," she said. "And then suddenly this tremendous collision. His mouth was wide open to my shoulder. He bit down and then turned and left. I could see the back of his head and tail when he left."
The attack, lasting only seconds, left puncture wounds across Glance's arm, causing her to bleed profusely.
"I was terrified I was going to attract more sharks," she said. "I don't recall the pain as much as the shock and fear. I was screaming help, help, help, very loudly."
Clutching her wounded arm, Glance decided to float on her back until someone heard her.
"My determination was that I have two small children," she said. "I could not leave my children behind. I just kept thinking of my kids."
Steve Bona, a Minnesota tourist, eventually heard her cries as he was bodyboarding 20 yards away, she said. Bona placed the injured woman on his board and paddled her to shore.
A doctor and a nurse in the area covered her wounds until paramedics arrived. Glance was in a Maui hospital for 3 1/2 days before being discharged Nov. 20.
Her husband, Robert Glance, 33, said the attack could have been a lot worse. "I think she kept a cool head and did what she had to do in a bad situation," he said.
Two other shark attacks have occurred on Maui this year. The attack on Glance was the 52nd shark attack worldwide this year ---- including six in Hawaii ---- according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Authorities believe a tiger shark attacked Glance, although no one is certain.
Glance said she was upset warning signs were not posted along the beach, but also said she is fortunate to have survived the incident.
"I'm feeling lucky to be alive," said Glance, who returned to San Diego on Saturday.