RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Russian man was killed by a shark as he and his girlfriend swam in shallow waters near the North Carolina shore, the latest in a rising tide of shark attacks and the second deadly one of the weekend.
The woman was alert and remained in critical but stable condition following the Monday attack near the Outer Banks, Sandra Miller, spokeswoman for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, said Tuesday morning.
The attack, the first off North Carolina's coast in more than 40 years, came less than two days after a 10-year-old boy was killed by a shark near Virginia Beach, about 135 miles up the shore.
Residents and workers along the popular stretch of beach in Avon, N.C., were stunned by the attack and were asking if it was safe to return to the water.
"My son fishes and surfs these waters all the time," said Carlene Beckham, an employee of the Avon Fishing Pier. "But after seeing what happened today he said he's not so sure anymore."
The couple from the Washington, D.C., area were swimming near a sandbar 20 to 40 feet off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore when the shark struck. Witness Gary Harkin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, said the man was alert upon reaching the shore but was badly mauled.
"He was still talking when he came out of the water," Harkin told The Virginian-Pilot.
Harkin said he tried to put a tourniquet on the man's leg with his long-sleeve T-shirt. Meanwhile, Harkin's friend, Carolyn Richards, administered CPR.
"I did have a pulse on him twice, but I lost him," she said.
Harkin said it appeared that the man had lost a leg and a finger. The woman lost her left foot and was bitten on her left hip and left wrist, he said. Both also had injuries in the groin area, Harkin said.
National Park Service spokeswoman Mary Doll said that when the first official, a Dare County sheriff's deputy, arrived, the victim was in full cardiac arrest.
Dr. Seaborn Blair at Avon Medical Center said the couple suffered "multiple dramatic injuries" to their legs and buttocks. The woman was airlifted to the Sentara Hospital with substantial wounds to her lower torso.
A hospital spokeswoman said the woman arrived at the hospital at 7:40 p.m. Monday. She underwent surgery and was in the trauma intensive care unit Tuesday morning.
"I think, barring any unforeseen complications such as infection, we'll be able to get her on the road to recovery," said Dr. Jeffrey Riblet, a trauma surgeon.
Park officials in Avon decided not to close the beach, but said they would fly over the water Tuesday searching for sharks or any unusual activity. Three types of sharks are common in the area: the sand tiger shark, bull shark and scalloped hammerhead.
The victims' names were not released. A Dare County spokeswoman said the couple are Russian citizens who live near the nation's capital.
The attack was believed to be the first off the North Carolina coast this year. The last reported fatal shark attack in North Carolina waters came in 1957, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla.
In Virginia on Saturday, a shark attacked 10-year-old David Peltier of Richmond, ripping a 17-inch gash in his left leg and releasing him from its grip only after the boy's father hit the shark on the head. The father carried David ashore but he died hours later after losing large amounts of blood from a severed artery.
The attack occurred in 4 feet of water about 50 yards from the shore off Sandbridge Beach, said Ed Brazle, division chief for Virginia Beach's Emergency Medical Services.
Shark attacks were thrust into the spotlight in early July when 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast had his right arm ripped off by a 6 1/2-foot-long bull shark off Florida's Gulf Coast. His arm was reattached after a daring rescue by his uncle, and he remains in a light coma.
On the Net:
The International Shark Attack File: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Sharks/ISAF/ISAF.htm
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