Teen speaks about losing his arm in N.C. shark attack

As two youths recover in a Wilmington, N.C., hospital from shark bites they suffered while swimming in the ocean at Oak Island, N.C., a Myrtle Beach area marine science expert says people should use common sense when going to the ocean - the shark’s home.

In six short video clips uploaded Tuesday to a North Carolina hospital’s Youtube page, the 16-year-old boy who lost his arm in a shark attack says he plans to stay positive and will “fight and live a normal life with the cards I’ve been dealt.”

Hunter Treschl, 16, of Colorado Springs, Colo., spoke from his hospital bed at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington in the videos about the shark attack Sunday in the ocean at Oak Island.

He smiles and laughs a bit in one of the short clips when talking about the support he’s received from people across the world and about seeing his friends at home when he’s released from the hospital.

“I was in just about waist deep water, I would say, playing with my cousin and I felt this kind of hit on my left leg . . . then I felt it, like one more time, and then it just kind of hit my arm,” Treschl said. “That was the first I saw when it was biting up my left arm . . . I was able to move and I got out of the water with the help of my cousin and onto the beach.”

Treschl and 12-year-old Kiersten Yow of Asheboro, N.C., were each attacked in separate incidents about an hour apart Sunday while swimming in the ocean along Oak Island’s barrier island coast.

The girl lost her left arm below the elbow and suffered a leg injury about 4:40 p.m. Sunday near Ocean Crest Pier; then at 5:50 p.m. and two miles away, Treschl was attacked.

It is the first time the victims have spoken about the incident. The videos were uploaded to the hospital’s Youtube channel about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“I have two options I can try to live my life the way I was and make an effort to do that even though I don’t have an arm, or I can kind of let this be completely debilitating and bring my life down and ruin it in a way,” Treschl said in one video. “Out of those two, there’s only one I chose and that’s to try to fight and live a normal life with the cards I’ve been dealt.”

The girl and her family could not be reached Wednesday for comment about her ordeal.

Dan Abel, a Coastal Carolina University marine science professor, said Wednesday via telephone from California that the attack on the two youths were tragedies.

“We have lots of sharks in the area, in the summer time we have a big mix of sharks. It’s their environment,” Abel said of the waters along the Carolina coast. “You’re in the water with sharks. How much risks are you taking? You’re still not taking much. We are invading their environment and we should respect that.”

Sharks typically are chasing prey like smaller fish, turtles and other marine life when they bite someone, Abel said. They also are often in murky waters and don’t see what they are biting when an attack occurs, he said

“These animals don’t consider us as prey,” Abel said. “It’s a horrible tragedy for these two families and these two kids. I would continue to swim in Grand Strand waters, but I would be cautious. … Be prudent, I feel much sympathy for the families, but realize the ocean belongs to the sharks and to all the other creatures that live there and we take small but measurable risks whenever we get in the water.”

Treschl was visiting family on the island when the attack occurred. Officials said there were no warnings before either attack and they have seen several sightings of sharks since then.

“I didn’t see it coming like I said I felt it on my leg. And then I saw it once it had attacked my arm because it was out of the water a little bit,” Treschl said.

North Carolina officials said they remain vigilant in watching for sharks along the coast.

Myrtle Beach area police and beach officials said they have not changed any of their routines, but are monitoring what occurred in the waters along the North Carolina coast, Lt. Joey Crosby said.

Residents and visitors should monitor their surroundings while enjoying the Myrtle Beach area ocean, Abel said. Swimmers should watch for people fishing from the beach and don’t go into the water near them or piers where people are fishing. If a shrimp trawler is offshore, swimmers should not go out near it.

“We have a pretty healthy mix of sharks in the ocean and it’s important to know that’s what’s supposed to be there,” Abel said “A healthy ocean demands healthy sharks.”

Treschl said when he arrived at the hospital there were about 25 people in a room waiting to help and they all got to work. The hospital staff and doctors “fixed my arm up and did a pretty good job on it from what I hear,” the teen said.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.

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