Shark bites local man
By SANDRA FREDERICK
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — A Port Orange man Thursday became the fourth person this year to be bitten by a shark in Volusia County.
Beach Patrol officials, EVAC personnel and Marc Latorre, 26, right in black shorts, help shark bite victim Nolan Sutliff, 28, of Port Orange, onto a stretcher after he was bitten by a shark on the left foot while surfing in New Smyrna Beach on April 18, 2002.
Witnesses said Nolan Sutliff, 28, was surfing about 20 yards offshore near Ponce de Leon Inlet´s south jetty when he was bitten. Marc Latorre, who was surfing nearby, said he was leaving the water about 11 a.m. when he saw Sutliff paddling in the surf and then heard him scream for help. "I ran into the water and helped him out," said Latorre, 26, of New Smyrna Beach, after EVAC transported the injured surfer to Bert Fish Medical Center. "He was bleeding badly and in pain."
Sutliff was admitted to the hospital and was in surgery late Thursday to repair torn tendons in his left foot, said Cathy Vaughn, spokeswoman for the hospital. He was listed in good condition Thursday night, she said. The bite is the third reported in New Smyrna Beach this year. A fourth bite occurred in Daytona Beach Shores. This year, there have been eight shark bites in Florida, 10 in the nation and 15 worldwide, according to George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.
Beach Patrol Capt. Rob Horster said Sutliff had about a 3-inch half-moon shaped gash on his left ankle. Horster said there were no plans to close the beach or pull people from the water after the attack.
"It´s that time of year," he said. "We know the sharks are there. They (surfers) know they are out there. Everyone knows they are out there. Every year we go through this."
Latorre said he saw plenty of sharks Thursday from his surfboard as he waited for the perfect wave. But the prospect of a bite wasn´t enough to keep him out of the water. "Maybe if it was great whites that were biting, I would stay out, but it´s not. These are not big sharks," he said.
Still, he said, "You always say to yourself that hopefully it won´t happen to you."
Burgess said that warm water, the lure of baitfish for sharks and the increase of people in the water is a perfect recipe for disaster. "It´s the same old story," he said from his Gainesville office. "It (shark) got a surfer in the inlet. It happens. They are the largest contingency of people in the water."
The expert said as long as the surfers stay out there, the numbers will continue to rise.
"The key is, if Volusia County wants to cut the numbers of bites, it needs self-control by the people in the water," he said. "The lifeguards can only do so much. It´s really about people using common sense. If they see sharks, get out of the water."
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