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South Padre Island, Texas: 3 people bitten in shark attacks in Texas and Florida on July 4

South Padre Island, Texas: 3 people bitten in shark attacks in Texas and Florida on July 4



CNN

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 by a shark on the foot while playing soccer in “knee-deep water” in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on Thursday afternoon and was taken to a hospital, CNN affiliate WKMG reported.

In Texas, four people encountered a shark while heading to the waters off South Padre Island over the Independence Day holiday, two of whom were bitten and another injured while trying to help, Texas officials said.

“Details at this time indicate that 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 was airlifted for further treatment, the department said.

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

Another beachgoer said he felt a shark brush against him as he swam past, according to the department.

“Shark encounters of this nature are not a common occurrence in Texas,” the statement said. “When shark bites do occur, they are often due to misidentification by sharks looking 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 associated with the same shark, which then swam out into open water, he said.

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

Two off-duty Border Patrol agents assisted one of the victims, according to a statement from the U.S. Border Patrol's Laredo Sector.

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

South Padre Island Beach Patrol, firefighters and police are patrolling the shoreline and using drones to monitor the shark, he said.

Nereyda Bazaldua told CNN that her daughter was one of the people bitten Thursday. Bazaldua said her two teenage daughters were in shallow, knee-deep water near the shore, playing with surfboards when they started yelling, “Shark!”

Bazaldua said that when her 18-year-old daughter Victoria came out of the water, “I could see a little bit of blood running down her leg.” Fortunately, Victoria’s injuries were minor, she said.

“The shark attacked her and scratched her leg with five or six teeth,” Bazaldua said. “The wounds are not deep.” Balzadua said the shark remained in the water for 20 to 30 minutes until it left.

“We didn’t see the shark until it was there with them,” he said. “There were no rough waters and the sea was calm. It appeared out of nowhere.”

A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew low over South Padre Island and used deterrent measures to prevent the shark from approaching 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 flying low over South Padre Island spotted a shark in the waters following the July 4 attacks.

Olivarez shared with CNN a video taken from the helicopter showing a shark lurking in the waters 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, there have been fewer than 10 reported shark bites in Texas since 2012. This puts the Lone Star State behind Florida (which leads 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 those injured and their families and we hope for a speedy recovery.”

South Padre Island is about 100 miles from Padre Island National Seashore, at the opposite end of what used to be one continuous island, according to the National Park Service.

Padre Island (also known as North Padre Island) is the world’s longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island, with 70 miles (112 kilometers) of protected shoreline, according to the park service. It divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre.