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07/25/2004 Aaron Perez (Texas)

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2004.
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Shark attack victim doing well

Post by sharkbait »

Shark attack victim doing well

By Lucretia Fernandez
The Facts

Published June 14, 2005

FREEPORT — “Sharkbait”, as his friends call him, is doing fine.

Aaron Perez, 12, is playing piano, practicing the violin, attending soccer camps, dribbling the basketball and even fishing a year after he was attacked by a shark. In between, he has become somewhat of a television star, with guest appearances behind him and the second part of his story scheduled to air soon on the Discovery Channel.

After six months of therapy, Aaron has complete use of his right arm that was bitten by a shark on July 25. He was fishing off Bryan Beach with his father, Blas Perez, when the shark attacked him.

“There was speckled trout all around me so I think the shark thought I was a big speckled trout,” Aaron said.

Aaron began punching the shark on the top of its mouth. He said he learned this from watching “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. While beating the shark, his arm slipped into the shark’s mouth.

Thanks to donations from the community and a fishing tournament sponsored by Fish Coastal Texas, Aaron received all the therapy he needed and he is back out fishing with his father. Kistler Rods donated rods, lures and a tackle box to the Perez family because their equipment was lost during the incident.

“I’m not afraid of sharks,” Aaron said. “I never was.”

Lanier Middle School teachers and friends helped Aaron during his months of therapy, said his mother, Thelma Perez. His friends carried his books and violin to and from class for him. The orchestra instructor placed a racquetball on the end of the bow of the violin. Aaron could not squeeze his hand around the thin bow when he began learning the instrument.

The only thing Aaron has to worry about now is keeping his scars protected from the sun. He celebrated his 12th birthday in March with his friends who refer to him as “Sharkbait,” a nickname they borrowed from the Disney movie “Finding Nemo.”

His birthday cake even said, “Happy Birthday Sharkbait.”

Since the attack, Aaron has appeared on every national news morning show, the Oprah Winfrey show and the Montel Williams show. The Discovery Channel will air the second part of Aaron’s story during its annual “Shark Week” in July. The first part of his story aired last summer.

When Aaron attended a soccer camp in Austin, many of the kids recognized him from the Discovery Channel feature, Thelma Perez said.

But Aaron doesnÂ’t care much about his newfound fame.

“Yeah, I’d rather be fishing,” he said.
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Re: 07/25/2004 Aaron Perez (Texas)

Post by sharkbait »

Boy bitten by shark recounts attack, recovery

By Katlynn Lanham
The Facts

Published August 2, 2009

LAKE JACKSON — Aaron Perez is not afraid to go fishing, but when seaweed brushes his leg, he almost always jumps.

It has been five years since Perez was fishing with his father at Bryan Beach and bitten by a shark on his arm deep enough to expose the bone. He was flown to the Memorial Hermann Hospital, where his arm was surgically reattached.

Though doctors originally were unsure if the then-11-year-old would ever regain full use of his arm, after a year of physical therapy, his arm functions today as if he never was bitten.

If not for the scars that circle his forearm, no one would guess about the terrifying day and the long year of recovery.

“I’m back to normal,” said Aaron, now 16.

He has no restriction of movement in his arm and has perfect feeling in his fingers, he said.


His full recovery was not expected by the surgeon, said Blas Perez, Aaron’s father.

“The arm was amputated,” Blas Perez said. “It was a complete replant.”

The only thing connecting his forearm to his elbow was several inches of bone that were completely exposed, Perez said.

“The night of the surgery, we didn’t know if he would have his arm back,” Blas Perez said.

Aaron gets an annual checkup to make sure scar tissue is not growing in his arm, Blas Perez said. Aaron must routinely massage his arm to make sure the tissue does not build up, because if it does, it could stop his arm from full movement, he said.

Today Aaron plays violin in the school orchestra, plays soccer, runs cross country and golfs. He attends Brazosport High School and plans to go into the medical field.

“I thank God that I do have my arm,” Aaron sad. “It would definitely be different without my arm.”

Aaron and his father now go kayak fishing instead of wading most of the time, Blas Perez said. Though Aaron is only slightly more wary after his shark bite, his father’s memories of the day can not be as easily forgotten, he said.

“It’s my son,” Blas Perez said.

“I still have nightmares about it,” he said.


Looking back, Aaron remembers how perfect the day was when he was attacked. He remembers the weather and the fishing were top-notch, he said.

All of that quickly changed when a school of fish brought a shark into contact with Aaron’s leg and clamped down on it. Quickly recalling something he saw on “Shark Week” on The Discovery Channel, Aaron hit the shark in its gills to get it to release his leg. But the shark then latched onto his arm, where it inflicted the most damage.

Blas Perez and family friend Don Townes beat on the shark to get it to release Aaron’s arm.

“I was thinking I was going to die,” Aaron said. As his father got him to shore then to the hospital, Aaron repeatedly asked him if he was going to die or lose his arm.

The pain in his arm caused his whole body to throb, he said.

“It was just overwhelming,” Aaron said.

The amount of media coverage he received after the shark bite was a little overwhelming as well. After the attack, Aaron appeared on every national news morning show, the Oprah Winfrey show and the Montel Williams show. His story was featured on a two-part series during The Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.”

Though the media coverage might have been fun, Blas Perez will not forget what brought it about.

He remembers the panic he felt that day. He never has been that scared before or since, he said.

“It helps you appreciate life a little more,” Blas Perez said.

Katlynn Lanham is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at (979) 237-0150.

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Bitten Boy Learns Shark Defense From Discovery Channel

Post by sharkbait »

Bitten Boy Learns Shark Defense From Discovery Channel
Father Describes Saving Son As 'Dogfight'

HOUSTON -- An 11-year-old boy who was bitten by a shark off the Gulf of Mexico learned how to fight off the animal -- by punching it in the gills -- from watching television.

"I was watching TV the day before and I saw that on the Discovery Channel," Aaron Perez said Monday on NBC's "Today" show.

A surgeon at Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital in Houston spent more than four hours reattaching the boy's arm after last weekend's attack.

Aaron's father, Blas Perez, said the boy was wading in a school of trout at a beach near Freeport when the attack occurred.

"Aaron picked (a fish) up and he turned around to tell me, and when he did that the shark was right there and the dogfight was on," he told NBC.

Freeport Fire Chief John Stanford said the animal was a bull shark, which is aggressive and swims in shallow water.

The boy's father and a family friend separated the boy from the shark by hitting it with their fishing rods.

"I've never been that violent in my life," Perez said.

Aaron's incident was followed by another shark bite only two days later in Galveston.

Ericka Hailey, 19, of Tiki Island, suffered a 4-inch gash near her ankle when a shark off Galveston Island bit her.

Hailey was taken to UTMB Hospital, where she underwent surgery to repair tendons and muscle tissue in her foot. She was released from the hospital Friday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Officials Explain Possible Causes Of Shark Attacks

Although the two shark encounters happened within three days and in adjacent counties, authorities spent last week assuring beachgoers that shark encounters are rare, and that the public can take precautions to better avoid them.

Aaron encountered the shark while fishing with his family at Bryan Beach in Freeport. Officials believe the shark was attracted to a bag of the day's catch that he had tied around his waist.

"It's an unfortunate accident, but we really believe it's an isolated incident," the Freeport fire chief said.

Vic Maceo, director of the Galveston Beach Patrol, explained there have only been five shark bites reported in the past 20 years in Galveston Beach.

"We're not really looking at a pattern. This is the second one we've had this year. We had one Memorial Day weekend and this is the second, so we've had five in five years. And before that, it's been 20 years, so five in 20 years is really no pattern that we can see," Maceo said. "We feel like it's an isolated incident."

Since shiny objects that resemble fish scales can lure sharks, Hailey's shiny toenail polish may have grabbed the shark's attention.

Shark Safety Tips

Experts say swimmers should follow these tips to avoid shark encounters:

Stay in groups when swimming in the Gulf or oceans. Sharks are more likely to attack a solitary person.
Do not enter water if you have an open wound.
Do not wear shiny jewelry. The reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.
Refrain from excessive splashing. Erratic movement attracts sharks.
Do not swim at dawn or dusk. Sharks feed around 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Avoid swimming in cutout areas, like sandbars, where there is a sudden change in depth.
Do not panic. Sharks are attracted to increased heart rates and may continue to bite if stimulated.

Gulf Bacteria Cause Additional Health Problems For Bites, Beach Injuries

In addition to bite wounds, doctors treated the victims for possible infections caused by bacteria that thrive in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bacteria, such as vibrio vulnificus, can enter cuts or other open wounds and put a patient in serious condition within a couple of days.

If caught early, it can be remedied easily with antibiotics. Too late, and it can result in death, Texas Department of Health spokeswoman Emily Palmer said.

A recent case involved a pair of anglers who participated in a fishing tournament in mid-July near Port O'Connor, about 100 miles southwest of Galveston. One had to have his legs amputated. He waited two days to seek treatment for the infection, which likely entered his body through a scrape on his leg.

The other man was in good condition. He received treatment a day after he was infected, possibly through a blister on his foot

07/25/2004 Aaron Perez (Texas)

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7/25/2004 Aaron Perez 11 Bitten on right arm and above & below the right knee
Bryan Beach, Brazoria County Texas USA Wading/fishing & carrying a bag of fish 7:30:00 PM Bull Shark
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Post by sharkbait »

June 3, 2005 — Growing up just blocks from the beach in Freeport, Texas, Aaron Perez's favorite activity is playing in the sand and surf.

This summer, 12-year-old Aaron will approach the water with a bit more caution. Last July, while he and his family were fishing just 50 yards from shore, Aaron was attacked by a shark.

Thrown Around 'Like a Rag Doll'

Aaron first realized something was amiss when he noticed the fish were fleeing.

"I thought something weird was happening," he recalled.

Aaron he felt a bump from the shadowy water below.

"I turned to see what it was and it rose. The fin rose and then just clamped onto my leg and I started beating it and then when I did my arm slipped in its mouth," Aaron said. "He was shaking me trying to, like, take me into the water … bring me down or something."

The shark continued to attack, but Aaron fought back.

His father, who was nearby, was horrified watching the attack unfold. "I could see Aaron trying to punch the shark, and the shark was throwing him around like a rag doll from side to side," said Blas Perez.

Lesson from a Documentary

Luckily, Aaron had watched a documentary the night before that showed what to do if attacked by a shark.

As Aaron's mother, Thelma, recalled: "The man on the Discovery Channel said if you get attacked by a shark, you should hit them in the snout and the gills."

And that's exactly what Aaron did. "I started punching it and tried to make it go away," he said. "It seemed like forever but now that I think about it, it was only about a minute."

"I can remember him slamming that shark with his left hand, trying to get away from him," said a family friend, Don Townes, who was also fishing that day. "He was fighting him all the way. He wasn't going to let him take him, and that shark was big enough to take him where he wanted to go."
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Post by sharkbait »

Kid makes miraculous recovery after very nearly losing arm

By Christi Myers
ABC13 Eyewitness News, Texas - 29 minutes ago:

(5/20/05 - FREEPORT, TX) — We have the extraordinary story of a young Freeport boy who was attacked by a shark. It's amazing because the boy fought off his attacker and quick thinking enabled his arm to be reattached.
The boy is now even using his hand in an amazing way

While at Freeport, Aaron Perez is willing to wade, but not yet swim.
"It happened about 30 to 50 yards to the right of that boat," said Aaron's dad, Blas Perez, pointing out on the water.

The shark attacked him almost a year ago in that spot.

"When I turned around, I saw the fin rise," recalled Aaron. "It clamped onto my leg and I started punching it."

He knew to punch it in the gills because he'd seen a TV show on sharks.

"I was yelling for my dad and my dad and his friend came and started hitting the shark," said Aaron.

"I was able to lash it a couple of times with my fishing rod," said Blas. "I broke my fishing rod on its back."

His mother, Thelma Perez, added, "You feel so helpless. You just want it to stop, go away. But you can't."

"There were some fisherman there and they put a shirt over my arm," said Aaron. "Don grabbed like that and then my mom brought the truck."

Squeezing his arm above the injury slowed the bleeding. But Aaron's arm was almost severed and only held together by two strings of crushed bone. Aaron, who was 11 years old, didn't cry.

"I was praying when I was coming out of the water," he said.

"What were you praying?" we asked him.

"That God would help the doctors heal my arm and I'd be alright."

The answer to his prayer was a Life Flight trip to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where microsurgeon Emmanuel Melissinos was able to reconnect his blood vessels within the four to six hour limit.

"They had the presence of mind to apply pressure over the area that was severed and so the child did not lose that much blood," said Dr. Melissinos.

And now Aaron plays the piano with his reattached hand. He also plays the violin.

"Just the fact he was attempting it was awesome to watch," said Thelma.

The stitches on his hand are fading. His leg stitches have healed, too.
Aaron is featured in the National Geographic magazine for kids as a success story and his parents feel blessed to have him.

"It still comes back once in a while, but hey -- we made it. We'll be ok,"
said Blas.

Aaron is the fourth shark bite victim that Dr. Melissinos has repaired at Memorial Hermann. It happens more than people realize. He says slowing the bleeding with pressure and getting to a microsurgeon quickly are the keys to keeping a limb.
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