Report says diver was killed by shark 0n 9/01
April 10, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- The death of an expert diver off Pompano Beach in September is officially classified as a drowning, but the International Shark Attack File now calls it the only fatal shark attack in Florida last year.
Eric Reichardt never resurfaced after a dive to a wrecked freighter in nearly 300 feet of water. His body was found four days later. His right arm and right leg had been torn off, and his wet suit was in shreds. After an autopsy, the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office declared Reichardt's death a drowning.
George Burgess, a researcher and director of the shark file, said Tuesday that Reichardt probably drowned while under attack by a shark.
Burgess said Reichardt, 42, may have lost his regulator in the attack, which came as he dove to explore the wreck of the Ronald B. Johnson, a freighter sunk off the Fort Lauderdale area as part of an artificial-reef program.
He said the main evidence of a shark death was the hemorrhaging from Reichardt's left thigh.
"There's ample evidence that this was a shark," Burgess said.
Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward medical examiner, said Tuesday he doesn't know whether a shark contributed to Reichardt's death.
"There is some evidence that points to evidence of a shark attack, but we did not know it for sure," Perper said.
Burgess said it's likely that Reichardt, who was experienced in such deep dives, was attacked by a bull or tiger shark, at least 6 feet long.
"We've talked to some folks who have seen some monsters down there," Burgess said.
The first bite was probably to his left thigh. At this point, his regulator may have fallen out of his mouth, causing him to drown.
The bites to the torso, arms and legs came afterward, either from the first shark or from others, Burgess said.
Worldwide, there were five fatal shark attacks in 2001, down from 12 in 2000, according to the shark files. Two were in Africa, and three were in the United States -- one each in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
Florida also had 37 of the 62 unprovoked, nonfatal attacks in the United States last year.
Within Florida, Volusia County had the most attacks with 22.
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