North Carolina

2 suffer shark bites at NC coast

Jessica Bresnan talks about shark attack where she's vacationing in NC

Vacationer Jessica Bresnan talks about taking precautions following two shark attacks on Oak Island, NC. Video by Chris Seward, cseward@newsobserver.com
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Vacationer Jessica Bresnan talks about taking precautions following two shark attacks on Oak Island, NC. Video by Chris Seward, cseward@newsobserver.com

One or more sharks attacked two teenagers in frightening incidents at Oak Island Sunday, sending both to a local hospital via helicopter with serious injuries.

A teenage girl lost her part of her left arm and may lose her left leg and a 16-year-old boy “probably” lost his arm, Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said.

The town sent an ATV along the entire beach front to get everyone out of the water and the sheriff’s office sent a helicopter up the coast to investigate.

The call for the first attack came in at 4:12 p.m. and happened near Ocean Crest Motel. The second call came in at 5:41 p.m.

In the belief that the shark, if it’s the same one, might have been headed east, officials with the town of Oak Island were trying to reach officials with Caswell Beach.

Wallace, the mayor, said there was a townwide directive for people to get out of the ocean after the first attack, because it happened near the pier, where there can be more shark activity. People fish for sharks off the pier, Wallace said, though it is illegal to keep them.

She said swimming is not allowed within 300 feet of the pier, but she didn’t know how close the female victim was to the pier.

“One of the things we hope we never have to hear from a beach community; the shark bite victim is a teenage girl,” Wallace wrote in a social media post. “Confirmed that she has lost part of her left arm and may lose her left leg. She and her family are not residents, but relatives of theirs are OKI (Oak Island) residents.”

Steve Bouser, opinion editor of The Pilot in Southern Pines, was on the beach when the commotion began shortly after 4 p.m. People started saying, “Get out of the water, get out of the water,” and someone carried her to shore, Bouser said.

“You’ve got this nice beach scene going on, and the next moment is just a nightmare,” Bouser said.

Wallace expected a multiple-agency news conference to provide more details at 9 a.m. Monday.

The attacks were the second and third reported shark bites in Brunswick County since Thursday. A 13-year-old girl was injured by a shark bite shortly after noon on Thursday in Ocean Isle Beach. She suffered lacerations to her foot and was not seriously injured, according to Mayor Debbie Smith. A chunk was taken out of each side of her boogie board.

Confirmed unprovoked shark attacks ticked downward in 2014, from 75 to 72 worldwide, according to the International Shark Attack File.

While that number is the lowest since 2009, the 2014 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary said that unprovoked shark attacks have generally increased since 1900 as humans spend more time in the sea.

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