A man was bitten by a shark while swimming in the surf off Hunting Island State Park about 11 a.m. Friday, according to the Lady's Island-St. Helena Fire District, one of two shark bites reported in the area this week.
The man noticed a 4-foot-long shark swimming around him in shallow waters on the south beach and yelled, 'Shark!" only to be bitten by a second one he had not seen, district spokesman Scott Harris said. The S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism identified the victim as Lance Donahue Jr., 43, of Du Bois, Pa.
When first responders arrived, Donahue was on the beach with serious bleeding. He was quickly treated and transported by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where he was in good condition Friday afternoon, a spokesperson said.
Donahue told EMS the shark that bit him appeared to be about 10 inches in diameter, Harris said.
On Tuesday, another tourist, a 9-year-old Fort Mill boy, was bitten by a shark at a secluded beach off St. Helena Island's Coffin Point Road. That injury was minor, according to Cori Davenport, the boy's mother.
The pair were standing in about a foot of murky water when Davenport's son felt a bite and lept out of the water.
Neither of them saw the offender, but two rows of small teeth marks on his calf suggest it was a baby shark.
"We kept seeing little schools of fish swimming around and hopping out of the water, and we were joking, saying 'Where there's small fish, there's bigger fish eating them,'" Davenport recalled.
However, she was shocked that her son was bitten.
The family cleaned his wound, which has healed well without requiring a trip to the hospital.
A third shark attack was also reported late Friday morning in Avon, N.C., a small town in the Outer Banks, though it was not clear whether the victim was seriously hurt, according to WCNC.
On Hunting Island, the beach remained open and there were alerts for people to be cautious, said Dawn Dawson-House, a spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
The state park uses a flag system to indicate beachgoers of risks, including a purple flag for the presence of dangerous marine life.
Harris had no further description of the shark and a phone number could not be found for Donahue.
A witness, 15-year-old Abby Cuneo, said it looked small, but left substantial puncture wounds on the victim's foot.
Cuneo, of Athens, Ga., was standing in knee-deep water with her two younger brothers when she noticed Donahue yelling. When he lifted his foot out of the water, revealing the shark that had clamped down on him, the Cuneos realized he'd been yelling 'Shark!'
"At that point, everyone's hearts dropped and we were freaking out," Cuneo said. "Everyone ran out of the ocean. It was sort of one of those panic, stress-dreams you never want to have."
Donahue's family was parked close to the shore and quickly came to his aid while Cuneo's dad ran to the north beach to fetch a lifeguard. At least four people called 911.
Once EMS arrived, the Cuneos helped Donahue's wife pack up her car so she could leave with the couple's two daughters.
Cuneo said she was unsettled that some people quickly returned to the water or, farther down the beach, never heeded peoples' warnings.
"It's just something you never want to see," she said.
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