Two who lost arms in shark attacks in ‘stable’ condition

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A 16-year-old and a 12-year-old are in stable condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center after they were attacked by sharks in separate incidents about an hour apart off the coast of Oak Island on Sunday afternoon.

A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro was swimming near the Ocean Crest Pier just after 4:40 p.m. Sunday, when she was bitten by a shark, which took off her arm and caused serious injuries to one of her legs, according to the Brunswick County 911 Center. She was air-lifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. About an hour later, a 16-year-old boy from Colorado was bitten while swimming near the 5500 block of East Beach Drive.

“There’s somebody that’s been attacked by a shark,” a 911 caller reported Sunday. “His arm is gone.”

Both teens are in stable condition after undergoing surgery at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, according to Kyle Thomas, public information officer for the Town of Oak Island.

The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Air One, is flying over Oak Island to try to spot any sharks in the area, according to Emily Flax, spokeswoman for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re keeping a careful watch on the shore, making sure if they do see [a shark] that they alert the town,” Flax said.

The teens were swimming in waist-deep water about 20 yards offshore when they were attacked, according to Thomas.

Dr. Gordon Hooks, a surgeon at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said the 16-year-old was in stable condition after undergoing surgery on Sunday. When he arrived, he was in serious condition, and surgeons were able to conduct a definitive repair to the boy’s arm and stop the bleeding. A definitive repair means that the surgeons were able to connect the vital tissue structure of his left upper arm, where his arm was severed.

The boy will likely be in the hospital “for several more days,” Hooks said.

Hooks also performed surgery on the 12-year-old girl, but her family didn’t want any additional details about her injuries or her surgeries released to the public.

“We also want to send out a ‘thank you’ to all the bystanders and the EMS workers that responded to this accident,” Hooks said. “It’s certainly because of their actions that the patients were able to get to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.”

Hooks said the teen, who is awake and talking, was in “good shape.”

“Obviously, any time someone has gone under a traumatic accident like this, it’s a long recovery. I think, in general, people are first thankful that they’re alive, then the gravity of their injuries sometimes set in,” Hooks said.

Sunday’s shark bites were the second and third in one week reported off Brunswick County’s coast. On Thursday, a 13-year-old girl was reportedly bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of Ocean Isle Beach.

Read related story: Teenage girl injured in reported shark bite off Ocean Isle Beach

Correction: Based on information provided by the Town of Oak Island, a previous version of this story incorrectly identified the 16 year old as from Winston-Salem. He is from Colorado Springs, Colorado.