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Teen attacked by shark off St. George Island

By Associated Press, 6/2/2002 12:57

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) A shark bit the foot of a teen-ager swimming about 200 feet off Florida's St. George Island, police said.

The 16-year-old boy underwent three hours of surgery after Friday's attack and is recovering well, said Jay Abbott, chief of St. George Island Fire and Rescue.

Abbott would not release the name of the Birmingham, Ala., teen, who was vacationing on the island with his family. He was released from a Panama City hospital Saturday.

The boy was swimming with his brother when the shark, believed to be about 3 feet long, attacked. People were fishing and feeding gulls near the boys at the time, Abbott said.

The shark bite left a deep gash on the boy's left foot, but he was able to get to shore, where emergency workers treated him.

There were 76 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States last year 37 in Florida according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Three were fatal.

Another shark attack Friday, off Stinson Beach, Calif., left a 24-year-old man hospitalized with bites on his back and arm and a cut on his leg deep enough to expose muscle and bone. Lee Fontan was in fair condition Sunday and said he was just glad to be alive.

''I saw the jaws of death ... right in front of my face,'' he said.

That attack prompted National Park Service authorities to bar anyone from entering the water at Stinson Beach, about 20 miles northwest of San Francisco, for five days.

Officials in Florida did not close the St. George Island beaches after the attack or post warnings.


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