A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured after being attacked by an 11-foot shark while diving for lobsters in southern California.
Bystanders rushed to save the boy after he was heard shouting “I got bit!” while swimming at Beacon’s Beach, north of San Diego, on Saturday morning – the first day of the area’s lobster season.
He was airlifted to hospital and more than nine hours later, he was reported to be in a critical but stable condition, according to a spokesperson from Rady Children’s Hospital.
The victim, whose name is Keane Webre-Hayes, suffered traumatic upper torso injuries, Encinitas Lifeguard Captain Larry Giles said, but he is expected to survive the attack.
One of the witnesses who helped save the boy, Chad Hammel, said: “We heard this kid scream. I started paddling towards him and there was a big old wake of blood behind him,
“[The shark] ripped open everything in the back and then the top teeth came down and got his cheek.
Mr. Hammel and two other rescuers helped take the boy aboard a kayak and carry him to shore.
“His whole clavicle was ripped open, you could see the ball and socket joint and everything,” he added.
Witnesses said the shark was about 3.3 meters (11 feet) long. However, Mr. Giles said the species had not been identified yet.
Hayes’ mother, Ellie, spoke at a press conference on Monday evening and said her son is slowly recovering from serious bite wounds to his upper back, left arm and shoulder and the left side of his face.
“Today someone brought him a mask and a snorkel, and he feels pretty determined at this moment he is going to get back out there,” Ellie Hayes said. “He said, ‘Mom the chances are so much more slim for a second bite.'”
Ellie Hayes, the mother of Keane Webre-Hayes, reacts as she speaks about her son’s recovery, alongside her husband, Ben, right, at a hospital on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in San Diego.
“We got blessed on Sunday — we got very, very lucky. We know it and we are thankful,” Ellie said. “Keane is really special. … He is very brave, very strong, athletic. I don’t know. He’s a warrior; I didn’t know he was that good of a swimmer, so I’m really proud of him.”
Keane was listed in critical condition on Sunday and underwent immediate surgery after arriving by helicopter at the hospital. Dr. Tim Fairbanks, the hospital’s chief of pediatric surgery, said Monday he’s been upgraded to serious condition.
“It has been an honor to take care of Keane and his family during this time, and I also want to let you know our work is not done yet,” Fairbanks said. “We are thrilled to be where we are right now, but we still got to get him across the finish line, and get him all the way better.”
Doctors shared a photo of a smiling Keane in his hospital bed, with his left shoulder and the left side of his face showing the fresh wounds caused by the shark’s bite.
His mother thanked three men who were in a kayak nearby when her son was attacked and helped to get him to shore.
“Thank you so much,” she offered the good Samaritans. “Keane has been asking for them. I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all three of them. Without what they did, we would be having a whole different scenario. Keane has been asking for them and just real quick his eyes haven’t welled up until he asked for the people who saved his life.”
The family said they did not want to discuss the full extent of Keane’s injuries, but they do expect him to make a good recovery, even if the scars will remain. Doctors emphasized that Keane said he was thankful all of his limbs were intact.
“I am going to honor their wishes … what we will and won’t go over; it was a very large shark bite, very deep down through the chest through the muscles,” Fairbanks said. “We’re not going to go into much more details than that. It was a very large injury.