08/31/2000 Thadeus Kubinski (Florida) ***Fatal***

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Swimmer bled to death

Post by sharkbait »

Aug 31, 2000 - 07:38 PM
Swimmer bled to death

Yoli Pate was floating on a raft in her backyard swimming pool in St. Pete Beach when she heard horrifying screams from her next-door neighbor's wife.
``She was screaming for five to 10 minutes,'' said a shaken Pate. ``The screams were very eerie; very scary.''

Neighbors say Thadeus Kubinski, 69, of 4321 Holland Drive, was taking his usual swim in Boca Ciega Bay, beside his own dock, when he was attacked and killed about 4 p.m. Wednesday by what authorities suspect was an 8-to 9-foot-long bull shark weighing 400 pounds.

An autopsy performed Thursday determined that Kubinski essentially bled to death. His liver was heavily damaged in the attack.

Kubinski's wounds to the right side of his body, officials said, were consistent with a shark attack, said Fred Golliner, St. Pete Beach fire chief.

``The body was floating right next to the sea wall,'' said Pate, who did not see the shark. ``There was blood everywhere.''

Kubinski was swimming in water four to five feet deep.

Shark experts assisted the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office in the autopsy.

Several of the neighborhood's residents were startled by the attack. Some at the scene said they, too, regularly swim, fish and boat in the waters by their upscale homes.

``My daughter, she swims in this water all the time. We all do,'' said Susan Cassidy, who lives a few houses down from Kubinski. ``This guy swam every day.''

The attack stunned shark specialists.

``Deaths are few and far between,'' said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida. ``This is a very unusual event.'' Burgess will assist at the autopsy.

He added, ``It's not the time to be shutting beaches or getting into any `Jaws'-like panic.''

There have been only eight unprovoked shark attacks in Pinellas County since record keeping began more than 100 years ago. The last fatality was in 1981.

``There's always sharks in the area; this is their habitat,'' Golliner said. ``But I've been with the city for 25 years now, and I've never, ever heard of a shark attack.''

The last fatal shark attack in Florida waters occurred in November 1998 in Indian River County, when a tiger shark killed a child swimmer.

Before that, a fatal attack occurred in 1988 in Bay County, and one in Pinellas County in 1981 when a Tampa bartender tried to swim from Anna Maria Island to Egmont Key.

Experts say bull sharks and hammerhead sharks come to mind first for being capable of such an attack. A small group of hammerheads was visible from the air just a couple of hundred feet from the site of Wednesday's fatality.

The first species that came to Burgess' mind was bull shark, but he said the wounds would have to be examined to make such a determination.

Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Sarasota's Mote Marine laboratory agreed. Bull sharks ``can be very aggressive, not skittish like most sharks,'' Hueter said. ``They are the most dangerous species in this area's coastal waters.

``Still, shark attacks are very, very rare.''

Terri Hepburn, assistant director of Clearwater Marine Aquarium, said hammerheads cannot be ruled out.

``The way [hammerheads] hunt makes them more prone to ... mistake prey,'' she said. ``They are more apt to go for prey on the spur of the moment. They are not into stalking as much as some of the other species of sharks are.''

Why would a shark attack a human?

``They are attracted to certain behavioral things,'' Burgess said. ``The reality is that a splashing human might be attractive to a shark.''

Or the creature just might have made a mistake.

``They don't know that you are not food,'' said Jeff Swanagan, executive director of the Florida Aquarium. ``So they take a chunk of you to see what you are.''

Attacks vary by their location.

On Florida's east coast, they typically involve smaller sharks and are more of the hit-and-run variety, Burgess said. One the west coast, they involve larger sharks, occur less often but are frequently more serious, he said.

Kubinski would have celebrated his 70th birthday a week from today.

He owned rental property in both Connecticut and in Pinellas County, those who knew him said.

``He was a very, very nice guy,'' said Joe Litterio, who lived next door to Kubinski when he lived in Enfield, Conn., nearly a decade ago. ``He was very good to his tenants. He was always doing improvements to his houses.''

Both Kubinski and his wife were active, Litterio said.

``He and his wife were always walking everywhere. A lot of walking, a lot of exercising,'' he said. ``He was in good shape. I wouldn't have believed he was almost 70. He seemed a lot younger than that.''


08/31/2000 Thadeus Kubinski (Florida) ***Fatal***

Post by Guest »

Bull shark blamed in fatal attack

Associated Press

ST. PETE BEACH -- A shark fatally attacks a swimmer in a shallow bay near a beach resort gearing up for a big holiday weekend.

Sound familiar?

Unlike "Jaws,'' however, officials here are not debating whether to close beaches after Thadeus Kubinski was killed shortly after jumping off a dock in Boca Ciega Bay, a salty, sheltered inlet off the Gulf of Mexico lined with high-rise condos and expensive homes.

The beaches are staying open.

"This is an isolated incident,'' said St. Pete Beach Fire Chief Fred Golliner. "It's rare. It could be another 20 years before we have something like this again.''

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, called the chances of anyone being attacked by a shark, much less killed by one, "minuscule.''

"Folks shouldn't be terrified,'' Burgess said.

Kubinski's death was the first fatal shark attack in this area in nearly 20 years, a fact that city officials took great pains to point out as vacationers arrived for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The death was Florida's first fatal shark attack since Nov. 21, 1998, when 9-year-old James Willie Tellasmon was killed off Vero Beach in Indian River County.

There have been five fatal attacks over the past 25 years. Twenty-two people have been attacked by sharks in Florida this year, compared to 25 during 1999.

Burgess said the shark that killed Kubinski, 69, was likely a 8- or 9-foot bull shark weighing more than 400 pounds.

The shark probably mistook the man for prey, said Burgess, who assisted on Kubinski's autopsy.

The rare attack shocked beachgoers and residents of this peaceful resort, but did not scare them out of the water.

Hotel operators said there were no cancellations because of the attack, and few guests said they intended to stay out of the water.

Kubinski suffered massive chest wounds and died almost immediately after being bitten. He jumped off a dock in his back yard into about six feet of water. His splashing likely attracted a bull shark feeding nearby, Burgess said.

The attack happened about 4 p.m., a time when sharks are actively hunting.

The waterway is murky and visibility is poor. Schools of mullet and other fish are often found there.

Kubinski's wife Anna was also swimming and told family members she heard a noise near a neighbor's dock and a minute or so later her husband began struggling with a shark.

"She saw a dorsal fin,'' said George Kubinski, the couple's son. "She couldn't describe it. She just wanted to get out of the water.''

Anna Kubinski scrambled out of the water and across the small lawn separating the house from the water to call for help. When she returned minutes later, her husband was clinging to the dock; he was dead before paramedics arrived.

A tooth recovered from Kubinski and compared to other bull sharks led Burgess to guess the shark's size.

"It underscores the fact that the sea is basically a wilderness,'' Burgess said.

Burgess said sharks often avoid humans, but can mistake them for prey. Bull sharks feed on larger animals like sea turtles and porpoise.

"My guess would be the shark simply reacted to the splash. ... Humans are not a normal food item,'' Burgess said.

Official autopsy results on Kubinski were not available Thursday afternoon and funeral arrangements for the retired businessman were still being made.

http://staugustine.com/stories/090100/s ... .005.shtml

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