June 10 2002
JENSEN BEACH -- A 10-year-old Port St. Lucie boy was in stable condition Sunday night after being attacked by a shark as he swam with a group of children 30 yards off the south end of the public beach.
The attack, among the first in Florida this spring, occurred hours earlier on a sunny afternoon when Jensen Beach was filled with sunbathers and swimmers. Yellow flags were posted as 2-foot seas came ashore. Some swimmers said bait fish could be seen in the water.
Lifestar emergency services flew Corey Brooks, who was suffering reportedly from a 12- to 14-inch gash in his right calf, to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Brooks underwent surgery Sunday evening at St. Mary's, according to his mother, Tammie Brooks of Port St. Lucie.
Reportedly, her son had more than 100 stitches in his leg and was resting in the facility's intensive care unit after surgery.
Tammie Brooks said Corey had gone to the beach with family friends when she received the "bad news he was bit by a shark. They told me he was airlifted here," she said, standing outside of St. Mary's.
She said she was told her son had been playing in waist-deep water and thought one of his friends was pulling on his leg underwater. Then he saw a shark had bitten him and he ran crying for help.
A lifeguard supervisor said guards were unable to forewarn swimmers because the attack occurred too far down the beach from the posted lifeguard stations to monitor the shark siting. Lifeguards were informed of the attack about 1 p.m., when a guard was told the boy was bitten as he swam in the surf with more than 20 other children.
Lifeguards then quickly called everyone onto the beach from the water and stabilized the boy.
Joe Kostygan, chief lifeguard for Martin County, said the attack occurred "quite a way down the beach" from a guard station. "It was out of the guarded area at the extreme end of the public beach."
He said, "It's been a heck of while at least 10 or 12 years" since he could remember another attack there. The incident was probably "a chance encounter."
"Shark attacks are such a chance encounter you could be looking right at it," and not see it, Kostygan said. Most swimmers were packed pretty close to shore. "They would have noticed him if he was out further," he said of Corey.
Corey was conscious and "pretty calm" but in pain, said Martin County Fire Rescue firefighter/paramedic T.J. Guzzi and fire medic Doug Young.
"He had a pretty significant bite, it did appear serious. He was stable, but we took him to St. Mary's just to make sure," Young said. Lifeguards and fire officials "did a great job," he said. "The scene was pretty controlled."
The Lifestar helicopter landed on A1A, adjacent to the beach area, at 1:15 p.m.
The youth was "pretty hysterical" when it first happened, said one unidentified sunbather on the beach, who witnessed the event.
After the incident, the observer said he and his friends decided to stay on the beach, but were reluctant to go in the water. Other swimmers, went back into the water 30 minutes later.
On May 31, a shark bit the left foot of a teen swimmer near St. George Island off the Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 16-year-old boy from Birmingham, Ala., underwent three hours of surgery and was recovering well, reports stated. The teen, who was swimming with his younger brother, was about 200 feet from shore when the shark, thought to be 3 feet long, attacked. People were reportedly fishing and feeding gulls near the boys at the time of the attack.