Pair lose limbs in shark attacks

Two young people holidaying in the beach town of Oak Island, North Carolina, were swimming in waist-deep water when they lost limbs in separate life-threatening shark attacks.

Pair lose limbs in shark attacks

A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Winston-Salem lost his left arm less than 90 minutes later and about 4km away late on Sunday afternoon.

The victims were each about 20m offshore.

Both were airlifted about 40km to New Hanover Regional Medical Centre in Wilmington, said hospital spokeswoman Martha Harlan. Surgeons amputated the girl’s left arm below her elbow, and she has tissue damage to her lower left leg. The boy’s left arm was amputated below his left shoulder. Neither victim’s name was released.

“Honestly, they have a really long road ahead,” said Brunswick County Emergency Services director Brian Watts, who credited their survival to bystanders who helped to stop their bleeding and the quick work of emergency personnel. “Without that, we would have had a different outcome,” he said.

The emergency call about the girl came in at about 4.40pm, and the one about the boy at 5.51pm, officials said.

Investigators said they did not know whether the same shark attacked both victims, nor the size of the shark in either attack.

Deputies using boats and helicopters to monitor the water after the attacks saw a 2.1m-long shark between where the incidents happened, sheriff John Ingram said.

Oak Island is working with local law enforcement and the Shark Research Institute to locate the shark but wouldn’t say what would happen if they find it, town manager Tim Holloman said.

“We’re just monitoring right now,” he said.

Witnesses described a frightening and chaotic scene on the normally placid beach.

“I saw someone carry this girl [out of the water], and people were swarming around and trying to help,” said Steve Bouser, who was just beginning his week-long holiday. “It was quite terrible.”

The girl was bleeding heavily, and people applied makeshift tourniquets while asking her questions to try to keep her conscious. It was “quite nightmarish”, Bouser said.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox