Man bitten by shark in St. Augustine
By Shawna Sundin
Times-Union staff writer
ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH -- It took a shark only seconds to bite into Robert Stinson's foot Saturday morning, but he'll spend the next several months dealing with the damage the animal left behind.
The 34-year-old Orange Park man was bitten standing next to his surfboard in murky water up to his waist while his family was on shore. It was the first shark attack this year in the Jacksonville area.
"I never saw it coming," Stinson said yesterday of the estimated 4-foot-long shark. "It hit my foot, took two quick tugs, thrashed a little and swam away."
He was taken to Flagler Hospital where he had surgery to repair a severed Achilles tendon and was released that evening. The shark also left puncture wounds and teeth marks on his foot.
Stinson will have to wear a cast for about four months and then go through physical therapy. In the meantime, he has to use crutches and can't put any weight on his foot.
"What a way to ruin a Saturday," he said. "It's pretty much ruined my summer. I can't do anything."
After the shark bit him, Stinson rode his surfboard to where his wife, 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were on shore.
Mary Stinson, who is a nurse, wrapped a towel around the wound and had her husband lie down with his foot on a beach chair so it was elevated above his heart until rescue workers arrived.
"It just scared me to death when I saw his foot just dangling there," she said. "We're just glad it wasn't the whole foot. The big thing was I didn't want any of the kids to go into the water."
She said her husband had shown their daughter how to surf last year and they encouraged her to go out with him Saturday, but she didn't.
"God was watching over us," she said.
This was the ninth shark attack in Florida this year, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.
Attacks will continue to rise as it gets warmer and more people go into the water, Burgess said.
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