HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A 10-year-old boy was bitten by a shark while splashing in waist-deep water along the South Carolina coast, according to the boy’s mother.
Tonya Turrell told the Island Packet of Hilton Head that her son Jei was bitten in the right forearm while he and his brother were playing Sunday on Hilton Head Island.
Turrell says the family had been at the beach about an hour when she heard her son screaming “Shark!” and saw blood.
“He is a trooper,” said Turrell, who wrapped Jei’s arm in a towel and went to a lifeguard for help. “He is so brave.”
The boy was flown to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia. He underwent surgery Sunday and Turrell said he’s recovering but likely wouldn’t want to venture back into the ocean anytime soon.
Experts at the Florida Museum of Natural History confirmed the shark bite from photos of the wound but were not sure what kind of shark it was.
Turrell said she wouldn’t have let her children go into the water if she’d known about recent, frequent water evacuations in the Hilton Head Island area. According to Mike Wagner, operations manager for Hilton Head Island Shore Beach Service, those happen almost daily during the summer season. Some of those evacuations are for shark sightings or lightning strikes, but most are to bring in swimmers venturing too far out, Wagner said.
Several days before Jei was bitten, there were evacuations in the late morning and early afternoon after a shark was spotted swimming back and forth in shallow water in the area.
Sunday afternoon’s incident was the first reported shark bite of 2018 on Hilton Head Island, according to Wagner. In 2017, there were 10 confirmed shark attacks in South Carolina. Of those, eight were on Hilton Head Island.