South Padre Island, Texas: 3 Bitten by Shark Attacks in Texas and Florida on July 4


Three people were bitten by sharks in separate attacks on beaches in Texas and Florida on July 4, authorities said.

A 21-year-old Ohio man was bitten on the foot by a shark while playing soccer in “knee-deep water” on Florida’s New Smyrna Beach Thursday afternoon and was taken to the hospital, CNN station WKMG reported.

In Texas, four people encountered a shark while in the waters off South Padre Island on Independence Day. Two of them were bitten and another was injured while trying to help, Texas authorities said.

“Details at this time indicate two people were bitten and two people encountered the shark but were not seriously injured,” the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said in a statement.

The two bite victims were taken to Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, where one is being treated and the other has been flown for further treatment, the department said.

The third person was injured — but not seriously — while trying to help one of the bite victims, the department told CNN. It’s unclear exactly how they were injured.

Another beachgoer reported feeling a shark brush against him as it swam by, the department said.

“Shark encounters of this nature are not common in Texas,” the statement said. “When shark bites do occur, they are usually a case of mistaken identity by sharks searching for food.”

Earlier, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Capt. Chris Dowdy told CNN affiliate KRGV that at least four shark-related incidents had been reported on South Padre Island. The attacks were likely related to the same shark, which later swam out into open water, he said.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, two off-duty Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit agents pulled one of the victims from the water and applied a tourniquet to his leg.

According to a release from the U.S. Border Patrol Laredo Sector, two off-duty Border Patrol agents assisted one of the victims.

One of the attacks was reported to South Padre Island police at 11 a.m., Nikki Soto, the city’s Public Information Officer, told CNN. Officers provided immediate treatment and transported the male victim to a local hospital, Soto said.

She said lifeguards, firefighters and police officers along the South Padre Island coastline are monitoring sharks using drones.

Nereyda Bazaldua told CNN her daughter was among those bitten Thursday. Bazaldua said her two teenage daughters were playing on boogie boards in shallow, knee-deep water near the shore when they started screaming, “Shark!”

When her 18-year-old daughter Victoria got out of the water, Bazaldua said she “saw some blood running down her leg,” Bazaldua said. Fortunately, Victoria’s injuries were only minor, she said.

“The shark pushed into her, five to six of its teeth scratched her leg,” Bazaldua said. “The wounds are not deep.” Balzadua said the shark stayed in the water for 20 to 30 minutes before moving on.

“We never saw the shark until it was right up close,” she said. “It wasn’t rough water and the sea was calm. It just came out of nowhere.”

A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew low over South Padre Island and deployed deterrents to keep the sharks from coming close to shore after the encounters, a spokesman said.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety Aircraft Division responded to South Padre Island to assist local authorities with a shark attack,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez.

A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew low over South Padre Island and spotted a shark in the water after the July 4 attacks.

Olivarez shared with CNN a video taken from the helicopter that showed a shark lurking in the water and swimming against the waves Thursday afternoon. “DPS remained on scene until the shark was no longer a threat,” Olivarez said.

According to the International Shark Attack File, maintained by the University of Florida, fewer than 10 shark bites have been reported in Texas since 2012. That puts the Lone Star State behind Florida – with 259 reported bites – Hawaii (76), South Carolina (45), North Carolina (31) and California (29).

South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty said, “Our hearts and prayers are with the injured and their families and we hope for a speedy recovery.”

According to the National Park Service, South Padre Island is located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Padre Island National Seashore, on the other side of what was once one contiguous island.

Padre Island (also known as North Padre Island) is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, with 70 miles of protected coastline, according to the park service. It separates the Gulf of Mexico from Laguna Madre.

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