A teenage boy sustained serious upper body injuries after he was attacked by an estimated 10-foot-long shark on Saturday morning while diving for lobsters off the coast of Encinitas, a popular beach town in San Diego County.
According to CBS News, Keane Hayes, 13, has improved from critical condition to serious condition, and is expected to make a full recovery. He is the first shark victim in the area in 30 years, the outlet reported.
A nearby kayaker, Chad Hammel, witnessed the incident and told the outlet he heard the boy scream. “It’s probably like ten feet of blood behind him,” he recalled to CBS News. “And he’s in a panic.”
The calls about the attack came in around 7 a.m. local time, FOX 5 reported. Lobster diving season had begun at 6 a.m., and Hayes was reportedly participating with his church youth group. Hammel also told the local station that he heard someone yelling “I got bit!” and that he rescued the boy by pulling him onto his kayak.
“We told him he’s going to be okay, he’s going to be alright,” Hammel said to Fox 5. “We got help. I yelled at everyone to get out of the water: ‘There’s a shark in the water!’ ”
He continued, “Once we threw him up on the kayak and started heading in, that’s when I looked back, and the shark was behind the kayak. He didn’t want to give up yet.”
Hayes was then airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital and endured nine hours of treatment for his upper torso injuries before he was stabilized, according to the Independent.
“This is a rare injury,” said Rady’s chief of pediatric surgery, Dr. Tim Fairbanks, in a news conference Saturday afternoon. “This is not something we see much of, to be honest with you.”
Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the University of California, Long Beach’s Shark Lab, told CBS the attack was “just bad luck… Ten feet is still a juvenile; it would be a large juvenile… The shark just [mistook] this person for potential prey and took a bite.”
He added, “We may start encountering sharks in places where we haven’t encountered them before. And as [shark] populations are recovering, people might start encountering them more.”
In 2017 alone, the U.S. had more shark attacks than any other nation: 53.
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Authorities are investigating if the shark was a great white and closed off the coastline from Ponto Beach in Carlsbad to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas for 48 hours.
There is a GoFundMe page to help the family cover any medical expenses. It has already exceeded the $20,000 goal.