Monday, October 24, 2005

Surfer survives shark attack

Megan Halavais had a strange premonition just before a 14-foot shark sunk its teeth into her leg and pulled her beneath the Pacific on Wednesday.
"The water was really glassy, it was weird," Halavais, 20, said. "I was out there thinking this feels sharky to me."

Halavais, a former junior college athlete, was surfing a little way from a group of surfers north of San Francisco, around 11 a.m. on Wednesday when a great white shark attacked her.

"I felt it hit. I didn't really feel the bite and I turned my body around and just see this huge body and this huge dorsal fin and I just realized that this was a big shark," Halavais said. "I was just trying to push, trying not to hurt it. (I was) just trying to get its mouth, its body, away from me hoping it would kind of take a bite and swim off."

Halavais doesn't remember being pulled under water, but when she emerged she was bleeding heavily.

"Right within a foot of Megan was a dorsal fin that was as easily as tall as her if not a couple inches overhead," David Bryant, a fellow surfer who witnessed the attack, told "Good Morning America."

Bryant and fellow surfers helped Halavais to shore, and she was flown by helicopter to Santa Rosa Hospital.

"I just stayed with her smooth and steady," said lifeguard Brit Horn. "I told her, 'We're going to make it, Megan. You're going to be OK.'"

The shark took a 19-inch bite out of Halavais, from her thigh to her calf, but she is expected to make a full recovery.

"It cut, all the way to the bone, cutting the muscle between the skin and the bone," said Dr. David Hardin. "It did not get any major arteries."

Police believe the shark was a great white and have closed the beach and warned surfers in nearby locations.

"You think about it, but you never think it's going to happen to you," Halavais said. "If a 16-foot shark meant to eat me, it would have. It was just tasting."

Halavais already has a new wet suit and plans to surf as soon as she can.


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