Shark bite victim is ninth in county for 2000
By MARK I. JOHNSON (email@example.com)
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - An Atlanta visitor became Volusia County's ninth shark bite victim late Friday morning.
Terrill Crane, 40, said he was walking in about 3 feet of water in front of the Coconut Palm Resort time-shared condominium, 611 S. Atlantic Ave., when he saw a shark a short distance away.
"It wasn't big, about 5 feet long," said Crane while lying on the beach waiting transport to Bert Fish Medical Center, blood from wounds on his foot staining the sand around him. "He started coming toward my leg, so I kicked at it and it bit me.
"I called to my wife to get out of the water, then I got out," he said.
Crane's wife, Tonya, said at the hospital she was unaware her husband was under attack until he started yelling.
"I never saw the shark," she said. "I didn't even know he was fighting it."
Once Crane got to the beach after the 11:45 a.m. attack, a bystander ran to the nearest lifeguard tower to summon help.
As emergency medical crews treated the multiple lacerations to the top and bottom of his left foot, Crane asked if such attacks are common. A New Smyrna Beach firefighter told him it was not uncommon, but there had never been a serious attack or someone killed by a shark along local beaches.
"They are just taste testers then," Crane quipped.
Crane's mother, Ofelia Crane of Woodbury, Conn., said the family is here on vacation.
"This is our first time in New Smyrna Beach," she said. "What an experience."
She said she had been told there were no sharks along this beach because a reef blocked them from coming ashore. And now even with firsthand knowledge that information was wrong, it won't prevent her from coming back or going into the water.
"But for now I think I will stay in the pool," she said with a smile.
Her husband, Bill Wehrhahn, said he doesn't plan to go back in the ocean any time soon, but that won't likely be a permanent decision.
The idea of sharks in the water didn't seem to bother Pittsburgh, Pa., visitors, Hil and Martha Schramm.
"We were out in the water with him," said Martha Schramm. "I didn't see anything."
"We have been in the water all week and haven't seen anything," added her husband.
They said Friday's attack would not keep them out of the water, but Martha Schramm said she would look more carefully at the water before she enters.
Scott Petersohn , Volusia County Beach Service's training officer, said the Crane bite was the ninth documented shark attack this year in Volusia waters.
"That is about on par with last year," he said.
Crane was released from the Bert Fish emergency room after being treated.
Including Friday's attack, 23 people have been bitten by sharks in Florida waters so far this year, compared with 25 in all of 1999.
Officials are looking into possible reasons for the recent shark attacks. One theory, a state fisheries official said Friday, is that since the net ban, larger schools of mullet are coming closer to shore. The large schools of bait fish are attracting much bigger fish such as bull sharks and tarpon, which can sometimes be seen feeding in the surf.
On the other hand, shark researchers say there are just more people in the water, which increases the odds of human-shark encounters.
Environment Writer Dinah Voyles Pulver contributed to this report.
Area shark bites
Shark bites reported so far this year in Volusia County are:
-- Sept. 8, south of Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, 40-year-old Atlanta man, bite on the left foot.
-- July 25, New Smyrna Beach, 5-year-old boy, minor left leg wound.
-- July 10, Silver Beach Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, 13-year-old boy, minor foot wound.
-- July 9, Neptune Avenue, Ormond Beach, 41-year-old Holly Hill man, 15-inch bite above right knee, 8-inch bite to right calf.
-- July 2, Smyrna Dunes Park, New Smyrna Beach, 19-year-old Lake Mary girl, bite to the upper left thigh.
-- July 2, Smyrna Dunes Park, New Smyrna Beach, 13-year-old Kentucky girl, bite on the left calf.
-- June 19, Seminole Avenue, Ormond Beach, 52-year-old Valrico man, 3-4 inch laceration on right ankle.
-- June 2, 27th Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, 13-year-old Longwood boy, bite to arm just above the wrist.
-- April 15, south of Ponce de Leon Inlet, Orlando man, bite on the left foot .
State shark stats
Shark attacks are more common in Florida waters than anywhere else in the world, with 25 people suffering bites statewide in 1999, according to the International Shark File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
Twenty-three attacks been reported in state waters so far this year, including one Aug. 30 that resulted in the death of a 69-year-old man swimming off a dock in Boca Ciega Bay near St. Petersburg. That death was Florida's first fatal shark attack since Nov. 21, 1998, when a 9-year-old boy was killed off Vero Beach in Indian River County.
Including the Boca Ciega Bay death, five people have been killed by sharks in state waters over the past 25 years.
Volusia County routinely leads the state in the number of shark bites reported, with nine last year and eight in 1998. However, no fatal attacks have ever been recorded in Volusia County, according to the Shark File.