Surfer recovers after shark bite in Jacksonville Beach
Surfer, 20, bitten in foot by shark while surfing Thursday off Jacksonville Beach
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -
A 20-year-old surfer is recovering at home Friday after being bitten in the foot by a shark Thursday afternoon in Jacksonville Beach.
Bryan Liebetrau, a University of North Florida student, was surfing with his friend, Matthew Haynes, around 3 p.m. Thursday when he was attacked by a shark near 8th Street South.
"The sharks are definitely there. You just never think it's actually going to be you getting bit," Liebetrau said.
Haynes told News4Jax that he caught a wave and then heard a splash in the water and Liebetrau yelling for help.
"I was sitting on my board, and it came up from underneath, and it bit my foot," Liebetrau said. "I instinctively got off my board and went prone, and it was still coming up out of the water. It kind of brushed against my back and eventually swam off. "
"I saw the shark's tail in the blood in the water. It was like a crime scene," Haynes said.
Liebetrau paddled back to shore, and Haynes called 911.
Ocean Rescue responded to the shark bite call and found the surfers near 11th Street South. Firefighters treated Liebetrau and transported him to Baptist hospital, where he received 18 stitches and was later released.
"I was pretty scared because I didn't know how deep it was because I couldn't see the bottom of it. I didn't really know the severity of it," Liebetrau said.
Liebetrau's shark bite is the third in Jacksonville Beach this year and follows an attack in August that hospitalized a 10-year-old girl.
"It's the sharks' home, and with more people in the water, there's going to be more bites," said Lt. Jason Caffey, of Jax Beach Ocean Rescue.
Kaley Szarmack was in waist-deep water near 25th Avenue South when a shark tore into her right leg.
UNCUT: Vic Micolucci's interview with Kaley Szarmack
Kaley received national attention and was dubbed a hero because despite the bite, she went back in the water to pull her 6-year-old friend to safety.
Kaley suffered a 4- to 5-inch gash on two sides of her leg below the knee and was released from a hospital two days later.
She said the attack would not keep her from getting back in the water when she's healed. Liebetrau's friends shared that sentiment. They were back in the water surfing Friday.
Liebetrau said he'll be back, too.
"I'll be a little apprehensive about it, but it's literally all I do," he said. "I don't see me not surfing anymore."
But he offered advice for others getting out on the waves.
"Know your limitations. Always swim with somebody," Liebetrau said. "You know they're out there. You're in their habitat. Just be careful."