By CNN Newsource
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The first day of a beach vacation ruined — not by rain or sunburn. But by a shark bite.
Karen Sites traveled from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, only to end up in the hospital for surgery and hundreds of stitches.
Prior to his grandmother’s bite, 8-year-old Brian Sites loved playing in the sand and taking an occasional dip in the ocean.
“I’ll sit on the sand but I ain’t going in the water,” he said.
The Sites family had been planning their vacation to Myrtle Beach for over a year.
“I just felt something, I guess, bite me and I looked down and there was a shark on my arm, and I was only in waist [deep] water and I kept pushing at it to get it off my arm and then it did,” said Karen Sites.
It just after after noon on their first full day of vacation when their trip would take a shocking turn.
“I couldn’t even see the shark coming up, but all I was … the shark umped up and it didn’t even bite like all the way,” said Brian Sites.
“I saw the movement of its tail going to the side, and then, [my grandmother] screamed a little bit but as soon as she touched it, it just fell into the water.”
Brian Sites was only 10 feet away from his grandmother when he watched her get bitten by the shark. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment of the injuries.
“It’s very clearly a shark bite, when you look at the arc of the tooth marks and the damage that was done, and my sympathies to the victim. That’s a horrendous thing to go through,” said Daniel Abel, a professor of marine science at Coastal Carolina University.
Abel said sharks are not uncommon this time of year, and anyone who plans to swim in the shark’s home should take precautions.
“[Don’t] swim at dawn and dusk. There’s not many people in the water then and some of the sharks are closer to shoreline and feeding,” said Abel. “Don’t swim where there are schools of small fish, they’re called bait fish offshore, the sharks will swim in that or them. Don’t swim near where people are fishing like in piers.”
According to the International Shark Attack File, since 1837, there have been 34 unprovoked shark attacks in Horry County.
Abel said shark bites are extremely rare and while he offers his sympathy to victims of shark encounters, it’s important to understand sharks are important to our ecosystem.
“It’s very important that we treat our sharks, and our ocean and our entire planet with more respect than we do now,” he said.
Karen Sites said her shark encounter will not keep her from enjoying the beach, but she just needs to heal and get the all clear from her doctors.