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Two stories about recent Shark Attacks in the Florida Panhandle


A 14-year-old girl died after shark attack

She was bitten by a large shark on Saturday while she swam with a friend in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida panhandle, police said. The girl, a visitor from Louisiana, has not been identified pending notification of her relatives. She was on a boogie board near a sandbar about 200 yards offshore near Destin, Florida, when the two saw the shadowy shape of the shark in the water, said officials with the Walton County Sheriff's Office.

Witnesses told police the shark was feeding on a large school of fish at the time. The shark bit one of the girls on her lower body and dragged her under water.

"There was a surfer in the area who saw the attack and went to the aid of the young girl," said Walton County Sheriff's Lt. Frank Owens. "He got the girl up on his board and brought her toward shore. He put himself at risk to help the girl."

The teenager was treated at the shore but had lost a lot of blood, Owens said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The other girl, also 14 years old, narrowly escaped injury.

Thirty miles of Walton County beaches, packed with people trying to escape the summer heat, were shut down after the attack, which happened just before noon.

Read the rest of the article hereReuters 2005.


Shark victim has vivid memory of Panhandle attack

BILL KACZOR
Associated Press Writer

PANAMA CITY (AP) - Sixteen-year-old Craig Hutto, who lost his right leg in a shark attack, is alert, has a vivid memory of what happened and even has been joking about it, his parents said today.

Roger and Lou Ann Hutto also credited their oldest son, Brian, 25, and other tourists, including a doctor, three nurses and a paramedic, with saving Craig's life by pulling him from the shark's jaws and preventing further blood loss. "Words will never express how grateful we are, how thankful we are," Roger Hutto said. "If it hadn't been for those people, I don't think we would be standing here today."

Craig was attacked while he and his brother were fishing waist-deep in the Gulf of Mexico about 60 feet from shore Monday. Two days earlier a 14-year-old girl was killed by a shark at another Florida Panhandle beach. She was bitten by a bull shark and the same species is suspected in the attack on Craig.

The boy, a high school baseball and basketball player from Lebanon, Tenn., was listed in stable condition at Bay Medical Center. The Huttos said their son has kept his spirits high despite losing his leg and even joked with his mother, an accountant, about their next vacation.

"He said he didn't want to go to the beach again," she recounted. "I said `You know Daddy always wants to go out West, so we can go on a ranch.' He said `Momma, I'll probably get kicked in the head by a horse." She said he also joked that losing his right leg instead of his left was "one good thing" because he had suffered a severe sprain to his right ankle at a basketball camp.

The leg had to be amputated because the shark had ripped off most of the muscle, nerves and blood vessels from his thigh, doctors said. The teen remained conscious throughout the ordeal until receiving anesthesia for the surgery. He is scheduled for another operation Friday to repair damage to his hands apparently suffered trying to fend off the shark.

"He's got a pretty vivid memory of what happened, as we all do," said the teen's father, a lawyer for the Tennessee Department of Safety. "That's something he recognizes he's going to have to deal with." Brian Hutto fought off the shark, preventing worse injuries, but escaped without a scratch himself, his mother said.

"Something bumped him and he immediately kind of backpedaled," Brian Hutto said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." He then saw the fin and quickly realized it was a shark. "I grabbed hold and started going back to shore," he said. "I remember at one point grabbing Craig's arm and I remember hitting (the shark) at least once."

Mike Jones of Tallahassee was the first person to go out and help Brian Hutto fend off the shark, and his wife, Karen, a nurse, tended to Craig on the beach. Nurse Holly Baker of Athens, Tenn., also came to his aid, but others who helped have so far not identified themselves to the Huttos.

Craig's parents also went into the water, but the shark let go as they got to him. Monday's attack came two days after Jamie Marie Daigle, of Gonzales, La., was killed as she swam off Miramar Beach near Destin, about 80 miles to the west of where Craig was injured.

Lou Ann Hutto said her best friend called to tell her about the attack as they were driving Saturday to Cape San Blas, about 40 miles southeast of Panama City.

"She said `Be careful,' " she recalled. "We thought it was just an isolated event, but we talked about it." The Huttos said their son plans to continue his athletic career after he gets a prosthetic leg.

While the attack on Jamie was unprovoked, fishing by the Huttos and others at Cape San Blas probably attracted the shark's attention, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

"Those are very powerful stimuli for sharks and the waters there on Cape San Blas are murky so visibility is poor," Burgess said. He said the brothers were fishing near a steep drop-off to about 20 feet.

"You had a bad combination of food in the water adjacent to a deep water situation, very similar to what happened to the young lady in Destin," Burgess said. Witnesses reported seeing smaller fish in the water before Jaime was attacked.

Craig's parents said that the attack happened as their sons still were wading to a sandbar to resume fishing after they had gone to the beach to put fresh bait on their hooks.

Both attacks were the first ever recorded for Gulf County, where Craig was bitten, and Walton County, where Jaime was killed.


Shark Bites Tourist's Ankle in Florida

BOCA GRANDE, Fla. - A shark bit an Austrian tourist on the ankle Friday while he stood in chest-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, the state's third shark attack in a week.

Armin Trojer, 19, of Baden, Austria, was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Fort Myers, where he was in fair condition, hospital spokeswoman Pat Dolce said. He underwent surgery Friday evening to repair some ligaments, tendons and blood vessels on his right ankle.

"It is a confirmed shark attack," Lee County sheriff's spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi said. "Someone else in the water saw a shark."

Paramedics also indicated the wound was consistent with a shark bite, she said. The man was bitten near the lighthouse at Gasparilla Island Beach.

"We are out there right now letting people know, notifying people on the beach about what happened," LiMarzi said. The beach was not closed to swimmers as no other sharks were spotted during helicopter flights over the area.

Two other young people have been bitten since Saturday along Florida's Gulf Coast. Friday's incident was about 280 miles from an attack Monday on a 16-year-old Tennessee boy who lost his leg and about 350 miles from the spot where a 14-year-old Louisiana girl was killed Saturday.

Experts believed bull sharks attacked both teens in the Florida Panhandle. The type of shark involved in Friday's attack was not immediately determined.

Shark-bite victim released from hospital

FORT MYERS, Fla. - An Austrian teenager who was bitten by a shark off the coast of Boca Grande last week has been released from the hospital.

Armin Trojer, 19, of Baden, Austria, was released Sunday, said Alex Reichert, an administrative supervisor at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Trojer was bitten on his right ankle as he stood in chest-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair damaged ligaments, tendons and blood vessels.

The came days after two other shark attacks, some 80 miles apart in the Florida Panhandle.

On June 25, 14-year-old Jamie Marie Daigle of Gonzales, La., was mutilated and killed by a bull shark near Destin. Two days later, 16-year-old Craig Adam Hutto of Lebanon, Tenn., had to have his leg amputated after he was bitten off Cape San Blas.

There have also been other scares in recent days. Sharks were seen about 20 feet from shore in Deerfield Beach last week, prompting a temporary closure of the Broward County beach.

And on Sunday, the Monroe County sheriff's department received a call after a man was reportedly "surrounded by sharks" in waters off Long Key State Park, sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin said. The man was safely ashore by the time deputies arrived.

Despite the recent incidents, shark attacks in Florida are relatively rare, with 30 in 2003 among the millions of people who hit the state's beaches. Last year, when four hurricanes kept many visitors away, there were 12 attacks.

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06/25/05