COCOA BEACH, Fla. — A Winter Springs boy who was severely injured when he was bitten Sunday by a shark at Cocoa Beach has been identified.
Lucas Vertullo, 11, was bitten just after 11 a.m. near Lori Wilson Park and was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital via helicopter as a trauma alert patient.
“Our lifeguard spotted the victim in the water when he saw he seemed to be in distress. He ran out there, saw that he had been bit, carried him out of the water and immediately performed emergency aid,” said Brevard Ocean Rescue Assistant Chief Eisen Witcher.
Lucas' family released a statement Monday afternoon that read:
"We are so humbled by the thoughts and prayers everyone is offering for Lucas and our family. Lucas is recovering from his injuries and is in good spirits.
"We are deeply thankful for the wonderful care and attention our son has received from Brevard County Ocean Rescue, Brevard County Fire Rescue, the emergency department and critical care team at Arnold Palmer Hospital, and our friends and family.
"We wish to maintain our privacy during this difficult time, as our focus at the moment is to ensure Lucas continues to improve. Thank you, Mike and Heather Vertullo."
A witness said she saw the shark seconds before it bit the boy twice in the calf.
“My daughter and I were way out on a surfboard and two big waves came in. On the second big wave, we saw what looked to be a juvenile bull shark,” said Stephanie Yelenosky. “About 15 seconds later we saw a group of people in knee-high water and we heard screaming, so we knew that the shark probably had gotten confused or scared and took a bite at somebody.”
The boy suffered a severe laceration to his left calf.
Brevard County lifeguards stopped the bleeding until help arrived.
“It was one of the worst (shark bites) that we’ve seen out here in recent years,” said Witcher.
Yelenosky said the attack won’t keep her out of the water.
Beachgoers were kept out of the water for about an hour, and lifeguards flew the double-red flag.
The attack was the fourth shark bite in central Florida this year.