08/10/2015 - Richard Shafer - California

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08/10/2015 - Richard Shafer - California

Postby alb » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:42 am

Diver bit by shark

One minute a local diver was concentrating on spearing a fish when suddenly he had a little competition for that fish.

Richard Shafer, 57, on a dive trip that departed from Ventura, motored all night to reach Tanner Banks, a spot in the open ocean about 100 miles from San Diego.

Right at the beginning of a three day dive trip, Monday, Aug. 10, Shafer started spear fishing for yellowtail and tuna. The experienced diver dove down to 15 feet and speared a yellow tail. He speared it and fought with it after he speared it, but finally subdued it. He was about 100 feet from the boat and decided to swim back with his fish. When he saw a sea lion swoop underneath him, he didn't want to lose the fish to the sea lion, so he cradled his fish in his right arm as he swam back to the boat.

"All of a sudden something slammed the fish. I saw a hammerhead shark. It bit the fish and bit my hand. The crew of the boat was screaming at me to let go of the fish," Shafer said. "It hit me one time and shredded my hand. They threw out a line and bundled me up onto the boat."

The crew immediately went to work, cutting off his wetsuit and applying emergency butterfly stitches. A Coast Guard rescue crew soon airlifted him to a hospital at UC San Diego. An x-ray there revealed a fractured pinkie finger and fractured knuckle and six major lacerations requiring up to 40 stitches. One tendon was cut, but fortunately there's no damage to nerves.

"They pumped me full of antibiotics," Shafer said. "I'm all patched up. I went to a follow up visit and everything is healing well. It will take me six weeks to recuperate before I can get into the water again."

A member of the Pacifica masters swim team, Shafer was supposed to swim to Alcatraz with the group, but he won't be making that swim.

The six to seven foot shark not only took the fish, it took the whole spear and line that was attached to it.

"It happened so fast. I was freaking out because the shark was coming right for me," he said. "This is a once in a million thing."

After lots of time to heal and physical therapy to rehabilitate the hand, Shafer expects to resume running his business, Granite Electric. The hand is splinted now but he'll be in a cast for a couple weeks, as well. Shafer lives in Pacifica with his wife, Sherri, and two children, son Carter, 15, and daughter, Coral, 12.

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