Three visitors, ages 18 to 67, who were bitten by sharks — all in a week’s time — while swimming off Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches are recovering.
John Cole, 18 and a recent graduate of Currituck County High School, was on a camping trip with his family on June 27 when he was bitten by a shark while swimming in the surf at the Cape Hatteras KOA in Waves.
Cole suffered injuries to his right calf, right knee, and both hands. Dare County Emergency Medical Services and the Chicamacomico Banks Rescue Squad responded, and Cole was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He remains there in fair condition, according to a news release from the hospital yesterday.
According to the release, The American Hospital Association describes “fair condition” as “Vital signs stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, may be uncomfortable or in pain. Indicators favorable.”
A hospital spokesman said Cole and his family have requested privacy as they focus on his continued recovery, but he did issue a statement.
“I want to thank the people on the beach and Dare County emergency responders who helped me, as well as the medical transport teams who got me stabilized and safely to the hospital,” he said. “I want to thank the physicians and staff at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. I appreciate the media for their interest in my story and respect of my privacy as I continue to heal. I’m grateful for the love and support of family and friends as I work toward full recovery.”
Andrew Costello, 67, of Wareham, Mass., a former editor-in-chief of The Boston Herald, was injured Wednesday, July 1, in a shark attack while swimming about 25 to 30 feet off the lifeguarded beach on Ocracoke. He was transported to Vidant Medical Center, Greenville.
On Friday, July 3, Dr. Eric Toschlong, chief of trauma and acute care surgery at the medical center, said Costello received a “major, but non-lethal shark bite” to his thigh.
“While his injuries will require multiple additional operations,” the doctor said, “as of July 2, he has been upgraded to good condition.”
Costello also released a statement.
“I’m recovering after a frightening and painful shark attack that occurred on July 1,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have survived, thanks to the incredible assistance I received from medical personnel on the beach, both those on duty and vacation. I am receiving the best care at Vidant Medical Center, where I was airlifted. I want to thank everyone – from the Ocracoke National Park Service lifeguards to the EMTs and hospital medical staff for their professionalism and excellent care.
“At this time, I’m focused on my recovery and will not be doing media interviews,” he added. “Thank you for your concern and respecting my privacy during this time.”
The first shark-bite victim on the seashore was 47-year-old Patrick Thornton of Charlotte, N.C., who was bitten on his leg and lower back in water that was knee- to waist-deep off the beach in Avon on Friday, June 26.
Thornton was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and was reported by a Charlotte television station to have been recovering at home last week and still barely able to walk.
He told the television station that he was in the water when he felt something grab his leg. He quickly realized what it was and saw a shark about 4 to 5 feet long come right at him.
He yelled “shark” to get family members and other swimmers out of the water while he fought off the shark, which came at him several times.
“He was wrapped around me so I started hitting him on the side, and then I used my elbow to kind of jar him loose,” Thornton said.
Thornton also told the television station that despite the attack, he will probably go back to the beach.
“Eventually, I would go back to the ocean,” he said.
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