July 20, 2011
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UPDATE: Family of child attacked by shark says she is in ‘good’ condition


Pitt County Memorial Hospital issued a statement on Wednesday evening, July 20, on behalf of the family of a 6-year-old girl who was bitten by a shark yesterday while swimming on Ocracoke Island with her family.

The statement says:

"Our daughter is in good condition after receiving a shark bite to the right leg. The shark attack occurred in 2 feet of water on Ocracoke Island. Mom was 10 feet away and witnessed the event. Paramedics arrived promptly, and she received excellent medical attention from EMS personnel, life-flight crew, and Pitt County Memorial Hospital medical staff in Greenville. She is in good spirits, declaring this morning that, "I hate sharks. I like dolphins way better.

“From this point forward, we will not be releasing any additional information about her condition. Also, we will not be granting any media interviews. Thank you for respecting our privacy.”

The family was visiting Ocracoke when the youngster was bitten.  Her name has not been made public by her family or Park Service personnel who are investigating the incident.

Read more about the shark attack in the story below.

Injured child in critical condition after a shark attack on Ocracoke


A 6-year-old girl was in critical condition today at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville after she was bitten by a shark yesterday on Ocracoke.

According to Cape Hatteras National Seashore public information specialist Cyndy Holda, the incident happened around 5:30 p.m. near Ramp 72 in the area of South Point.

Holda said that the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office dispatched Hyde County Emergency Medical Services, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, and National Park Service rangers to the scene.

According to park officials on the scene, the girl was on a boogie board “in very shallow water” – about 18 inches -- when she was bitten.

Bystanders described what appeared to be a shark attacking a child, according to Hyde County Deputy Emergency Services Director Brian Carter.

According to Paul Stevens, the seashore’s chief law enforcement ranger, an unidentified bystander told the child’s father, that he saw a shark “knock the girl out of the water with her leg in its mouth.”

He estimated that the shark was 4 to 5 feet long.

The girl was bitten on her lower right leg and foot and was airlifted by EastCare to the hospital in Greenville.

The young girl was visiting the area with her family, but the Park Service has declined to release her name since she is a minor.

Stevens added that the father, who is a medical doctor, told the park ranger on the scene that he thought his daughter would be all right.

Stevens said no special precautions were being taken today on seashore beaches.  He said park officials think the attack was a freakish incident and they do not think sharks are schooling off the seashore, as is sometimes the case on other beaches, especially in Florida.

“You have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than bitten by a shark,” he said.

However, he added, that “It is amazing from the air how many sharks you can see” off the seashore.

“What kind of shark was it?” Stevens asked.  “Who knows? Perhaps a juvenile bull shark.”

The last shark attack on the seashore was on Sept. 3, 2001, off the beach at Avon when a 28-year-old Russian visitor was killed and his 23-year-old girlfriend critically injured. 

A bull shark was suspected in that attack.

The Russian couple was swimming about 20 to 40 yards offshore on a sandbar when the attack happened about 6 p.m. – very close to the time of day that the child was bitten on Ocracoke.

That incident was the second fatal shark attack in the region over that Memorial Day weekend. It came just two days after a 10-year-old boy was fatally attacked off Sandbridge, Va.

The media jumped on the story and dubbed the year as “the summer of the shark.” However, media attention to sharks evaporated after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks just a week later.

Before that, the last reported fatal shark attack in North Carolina waters came in 1957, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla.

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