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from The News Observer


Shark bites Wisconsin teen vacationing at NC beach

Tuesday, August 6, 2002 4:15PM EDT

TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C.(AP) - A Wisconsin teen visiting the beach for the first time had 33 stitches and staples after a shark bit him on the leg, authorities said.

Robert Pollan, 14, of Stoughton, Wis., was bitten about 11 a.m. Monday on the upper right leg while in the water at the southern end of Topsail Beach. He was treated at New Hanover County Regional Medical Center and released.

"He took a big chunk out of my leg, but after it heals I will be ready to go back in," Robert said shortly after he was released from the hospital.

Topsail Beach police Chief Rickey Smith said the bite was the first reported shark attack on the beach in his 18 years with the department.

Robert, who is about 5-4, said he was standing in waist-deep water playing with other family members and a dog when he felt something nick his leg.

He thought the dog had clawed him, until he saw blood in the water, flesh hanging from his leg and holes in his swim trunks, he said.

He walked to the shore to family members. A pediatric doctor, Tom Kayrouz, who happened to be vacationing on the beach, examined the wound and identified it as a shark bite.

Smith said the bite was about 6 to 7 inches in circumference, and he believed the shark to be about 4 or 5 feet long.

Kayrouz said the bite appeared as if the shark had grabbed hold of the leg and immediately let go.

The Pollan family flew to the area Sunday. Ellen Pollan, Robert's mother, said it was her children's first dip in the water at a beach.

"The only animals we ever dealt with where we are from is moose and mosquitoes," she said.

The incident was the third case this summer of sharks biting swimmers in the state's waters.

Last month, a 9-year-old California girl was swimming with family members in 3 to 4 feet of water about half a mile south of Johnnie Mercer's Pier at Wrightsville Beach when she was bitten by a shark.

Two weeks later, a 15-year-old Greensboro girl was bitten by what a marine expert identified as a 6-to-7-foot bull shark. The shark tore through several muscles and tendons in the girl's lower left leg while she was swimming in about 4 feet of water at Emerald Isle.

There were two shark attacks in North Carolina last year, according to The International Shark Attack File, a compilation of all known shark attacks worldwide maintained at the University of Florida. That compared to 37 unprovoked attacks in Florida and 55 nationwide last year.

The five attacks reported in North Carolina in 2000 were highest in state history.

Copyright 2002, The News & Observer Publishing Company

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