LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County mother says her family is still in a daze, days after her young son was bitten by a shark while they were at a central Florida beach.
“You never expect it to happen to you or your child so I think that’s still a little bit unbelievable,” said Pam Dicks, of Lake Wales.
Her son, 11-year-old Carson, was heading to shore with his twin brother and younger cousin when he felt something bite his foot at New Smyrna Beach on Thursday.
“It just bit me and then it just took off,” said Carson Dicks, who didn’t see the shark through the murky water. “I didn’t know what it was and I looked down and it was gushing blood.”
Carson got attention from lifeguards and paramedics and was taken to the hospital. They identified the injury as a shark bite.
His parents made a stress-filled, nearly two hour trip to Volusia County from Lake Wales.
“My husband and I drove the quickest we could safely to get to meet him at the hospital,” said Pam Dicks.
The soon-to-be sixth-grader sustained several lacerations and a shredded tendon in his toe.
“He has multiple stitches. I asked the doctor how many and they said – too many to count. But he’s expected to make a full recovery,” said his mother.
Carson’s is the third shark bite injury on New Smyrna Beach this year. The beach typically sees as many as 10 shark bites a year.
But his shark encounter did not happen where most of the attacks occur, according to officials.
“Where most of our bites occur is pretty much one of the best surfing destinations on the east coast. That combined with the jetty where you have all the baitfish, it makes kind of a perfect storm in that area,” said Volusia County Beach Safety Capt. Tammy Malphurs.
Volusia County is known as the “Shark Bite Capital of the World.”
“When you get bit by a shark, it’s not intentional. They’re chasing after bait fish. It’s usually a bite and release type deal,” said Capt. Malphurs.
Her advice? Always swim in front of a lifeguard tower as lifeguards monitor the water from above and can look out for sharks.
“If you’re in the water and you see a lot of bait fish running or you see birds dropping down and feeding on the fish, just kind of get out of that area for a little while,” said Capt. Malphurs.
There have been no deadly shark encounters in Volusia County.
Capt. Malphurs warns rip currents are a bigger threat than shark bites. Volusia County rescues 2,000 people a year from rip currents, she said.
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