Victim's brother fends off shark
North Jetty State Park , Fort Pierce area.
September 17 2001
Byron Hock insists he's not a hero.
"The firemen who saved all the people in the twin towers, I would call them heroes," said Byron, 12, from Davie, who has been watching the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center on television. "I was just helping out my brother."
So Byron contends, he was just doing what any big brother would do -- smack a shark that had bitten his younger sibling and was coming back for seconds.
"Yeah, I was afraid. But I kept my cool," said Byron, a sixth-grader at Indian Ridge Middle School in Davie. "I thought if the shark tried to attack me, I would hit it on the face. I'm 4 foot 6."
The attack occurred as Byron and Cory, 6, were surfing the waves kicked up by Tropical Storm Gabrielle with their father, Gerald Hock, and some family friends Saturday afternoon at North Jetty State Park near Fort Pierce. "We're storm chasers; we chase the waves," said Hock, 45, who owns a home inspection company and has been surfing in Florida since he was a teenager.
The boys were in knee-deep water riding their boogie boards when Cory fell off and something struck his lower back and buttocks.
"It felt like a fish curling around my bottom," Cory said. "It hurt."
A 3-foot shark, which Byron thinks was a white tip, slipped by and came back.
"My brother kicked him," explained Cory, a first-grader at Fox Trail Elementary School in Davie. "And he said if a shark messed around with his younger brother, which I am, he would scare him away."
Byron even was composed enough to tell Cory to walk, not run, out of the water.
"It's just logic," said Byron, who has picked up surfing survival tips from his dad, surfing magazines and watching television. "When little fish run, sharks come after them."
Hock, who was surfing in deeper water when the shark hit, was horrified when Byron began shouting for him and he saw paramedics gathering on the beach.
"You don't know how it feels when you are racing in and you see your boy, lying on the sand," Hock said.
Byron may not think he did anything heroic, but his dad disagrees: "I think he deserves a pat on the back."
Although Cory had several puncture wounds in his back, buttocks and legs, he was treated on the beach and went home with his family Saturday night, said Capt. Tom Whitley of the St. Lucie County Fire Rescue.
Last week, lifeguards at Fort Pierce's Broadwalk beach closed the area to swimmers for two days after sharks were sighted offshore. And a friend of Byron's was bit on the foot while surfing off North Jetty about a year ago.
That won't keep the Hocks out of the water. "It's not like sharks are trying to eat you," Byron said. "They just mistake you for a fish."