08/25/2001 Ben Gibbs (Florida)

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2001

08/25/2001 Ben Gibbs (Florida)

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:06 pm

Shark threat closes Florida beach again

August 26, 2001 Posted: 10:45 PM EDT (0245 GMT)


NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- A one-mile stretch of beach in east Florida remained closed for a fourth straight day Sunday, a rare move prompted by a rash of recent shark attacks.

Ben Gibbs, 18, spent Sunday recovering from foot and leg wounds, one day after being bitten by a shark one mile south of the closed beach in New Smyrna Beach.

He was the latest of at least 19 victims of shark attacks in the area this year, according to The Associated Press -- almost half the total number reported around the world.

As a result, beach access has been restricted since Thursday morning, an unprecedented step according to Beach Patrol Deputy Chief Joe Wooden.

"We never close for a full day," Wooden said. "You cannot launch a boat from the beach, you cannot walk off the beach to swim, boat or whatever, or surf."


Like most recent shark victims, Gibbs was drawn to the popular New Smyrna Beach area to surf.

"Something came out from underneath my feet. I thought it was one of my friends," Gibbs, a native of Casselberry, Florida, told CNN affiliate WFTV. "The next thing I know, it bit my foot and then it bit my leg. And then while it was biting my leg, I was trying to push him away by his month, and I had my thumb in his mouth."

The site of Saturday's shark attack was shut down for about an hour after the incident happened.

Meanwhile, officials continued to monitor the nearby surf for a cluster of sharks common in these waters rich in bait fish.


Ben Gibbs says a shark nipped him on the thigh and foot.
A helicopter survey of the area Saturday did not show as many sharks as Friday when a mixed group of 50 to 60 sharks were spotted near the surface, according to Volusia County Beach Patrol Deputy Chief Mike Hensler.

A ban on water activities along the one-mile stretch of New Smyrna Beach, some said, was the only thing keeping them out of the ocean.

"If they weren't going to kick us out then and then they said, 'Swim at your own risk,' then definitely -- yeah -- I would," said Joey Pringle.

To keep people out of the water, officials have hired additional beach personnel -- each with the authority to arrest anyone who defies the ban.

Authorities are also targeting people fishing for sharks along shoreline rocks and jetties -- an illegal practice, beach patrol said, which draws sharks closer to shore.

Volusia County Beach Patrol officials said despite the restricted area in New Smyrna Beach -- from the Ponce de Leon inlet jetty south one mile -- surfers and swimmers still have plenty of options.

"It's a very popular area, specific to surfers," Hensler said of the closed beach. "We still have 46 miles of beach the public can use in Volusia County. It's just a small strip that's closed to swimming."

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/08/26/s ... index.html
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The 9th shark attack reported near Ponce de Leon Inlet

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:19 pm

The 9th shark attack reported near Ponce de Leon Inlet, volusia county Florida.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Despite precautions taken by the Volusia County Beach Patrol in closing a wide area of the beach south of Ponce de Leon Inlet Saturday, a 19th shark-bite incident sent one surfer to the hospital.

Ben Gibbs, 18, of Casselberry, was bitten in the right foot and the upper thigh around 4 p.m. as rode a boogie board in front of the lifeguard station near the Flagler Avenue beach ramp, said Capt. Dave Williams of the Volusia County Beach Patrol. Gibbs was treated at the scene but decided to go to the hospital near his home, Williams said.

Gibbs was south of the mile stretch of surf closed to swimmers and surfers all weekend because of a rash of shark bites this past week.

Just minutes before the incident, Williams flew overhead in the county's Air One helicopter in search of the dangerous predators, which have been swarming the area for more than a week. Williams said he also scanned the waters around 10 a.m. from the air and saw just one shark.

The attack brings the count to 19 shark bites this year along county beaches, nine in the last week.
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Postby sharkbait » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:34 am

Volusia´s record-breaking shark bite toll:
19 bites in 2001 -- 9 in the past week

By SANDRA FREDERICK
STAFF WRITER

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — A shark outside the no-swim and surf zone bit a person Saturday, marking the ninth shark attack off Volusia County in a week.

Ben Gibbs, 18, of Casselberry, was bitten in the right foot and the upper thigh about 4 p.m. as he rode a boogie board in front of the lifeguard station near the Flagler Avenue beach ramp, said Capt. Dave Williams of the Volusia County Beach Patrol. Gibbs was treated at the scene but decided to go to the hospital near his home, Williams said.

Gibbs was about a mile and a half south of the mile stretch of surf closed since Thursday afternoon to swimmers and surfers because of a rash of shark bites last week. The same section, and no more, will be closed today, Williams said. He said officials will re-evaluate the situation today and could reopen the surf Monday.

Just minutes before the incident, Williams flew overhead in a sheriff´s helicopter in search of the dangerous predators, which have been swarming the area for more than a week, and saw none. Williams said he also scanned the waters around 10 a.m. from the air and saw just one shark.

The attack brings the count to 19 shark bites this year along county beaches, nine in the last week. That breaks a record for shark bites in Volusia County. The previous mark of 18 was recorded in 1996.

Eight of the nine bites since Aug. 18 have occurred off New Smyrna Beach, with most of them happening in surf south of the south jetty. All have been relatively minor "hit-and-run" attacks.

Earlier in the day, pelicans dived for fish and cars dodged the high tide for the perfect spot to park. The sands were crowded with families and shark lovers carrying binoculars or video cameras, apparently attracted by stories in the media about the attacks.

Closer to the Flagler Avenue approach, several kayakers battled to stay on the water as the tide crashed to shore. And, power boaters drove their machines through the waves for fun from the south jetty to Canaveral National Seashore.

However, what was missing from the typical day at the beach were the swimmers and surfers south of Ponce de Leon Inlet. Beach officials said the water would remain closed throughout the weekend.

"Everyone is cooperating," Beach Patrol Officer Tammy Marris said around 3 p.m. Saturday.

The beach was closed to cars for several hours during the mid-afternoon, however. That was because of high tide, not shark sightings.

William Hall, 33, New Smyrna Beach, was injured in a power ski accident at the south jetty about 2:45 p.m., said Kevin Roberts, spokesman for the city Fire Department. Hall was thrown from the ski and pulled from the water by bystanders.

"He was coughing up water when the people pulled him out," Roberts said.

Hall was transported to Bert Fish Medical Center where he was treated and released, a nursing supervisor said.

Beach visitor Paul Snodgrass brought his family to the beach where the surf was closed in hopes of getting a personal glance at the illusive predator -- but from a distance.

"I came here just for the purpose of seeing a shark," the DeLand man said as his daughter played along the shore. "I wouldn´t swim even if I could with all that is going on here."

Closer to the Flagler Avenue beach ramp, Chris Hoffman said he planned to surf but not in the area near the jetty.

"I stay up here and near Bethune Beach," the 15-year-old from Orange City said as he carried his board toward the water. "I like it down here better."

Tony O´Neal didn´t mind the orders to stay out of the water. He was set to throw his fishing line, not his body, into the salt water.

"If by chance we catch one, I would keep it," he said as he scanned the surf line for fins. "I have never caught one here but I sure would like to."

Cars lined up side-by-side along the beach and small boats packed the Atlantic waters, said Rob Meagher, a bartender at The Breakers Restaurant and Ocean View Bar, which overlooks the southern portion of the closed area.

"There´s no fear, but a lot of curiosity," Meagher said. "A lot of people are sitting and gawking."

People also cruised the waters on power skis scanning for sharks, said Allison Wigley, a bartender at Toni and Joe´s Patio.

Vendors cashed in on New Smyrna´s recent shark plunge in the news: Shirts and hats bearing pictures of sharks and reading "Bite Me" were hot items, drink holders reading "Shark Attack Party Time" were spotted around town and an incense shop marketed oil named "shark repellent."

Meagher said the restaurant might also offer appetizers made from shark today, just "to get back at ´em."

Outside the closed area, people seemed unaffected by the shark tales. Surfers scanned the coast for good waves and children swam.

The sharks have always been around and are not a big concern for surfers, said Todd Janda, assistant manager of Inlet Charley´s Surf Shop and a surfer.

"It´s kind of a bummer," Janda said. "We´d still be out surfing if it wasn´t illegal."

Some shopkeepers said they noticed a slowing down in business because of the attacks. Others said they thought people were drawn to the area because of them.

"We´re pretty busy," said Seaba Sharp, a front desk clerk at the Oceania Beach Club, which is about a mile south of the closed area. "It hasn´t really kept people away."

Yet others said the attacks weren´t really a big deal.

"People aren´t too concerned," said John Hostetter, a patron at Toni and Joe´s. "They´re having a lot of fun with it."

Staff Writer Jean Morgan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/speci ... 082601.htm
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