Friday, October 21, 2005

Surfer...lucky to be alive following attack

A surfer from Santa Rosa was attacked by an apparent great white shark while paddling into the water at Salmon Creek Beach on the Sonoma Coast.

Authorities say 20-year-old Megan Halavais was attacked by a shark around 11 a.m. near the Bodega Dunes, according to Sonoma County Sheriff Lt. Roger Rude.

She later told paramedics that she was paddling on her surfboard when a shark some 14 feet long grabbed her from behind and pulled her underwater, Rude said. The victim managed to grab the shark and was released, but not before she suffered a serious 18-inch bite wound from her thigh to her calf.

Brit Horn, an off-duty lifeguard at the beach, witnessed the attack while surfing with others nearby.
"I heard her scream, looked over and saw a very large fin, and saw her go under water," he said.
Halavais was helped from the water by other surfers and was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and is listed in stable condition. Trauma surgeon Dr. Dave Hardin says Halavais' wounds were dirty and had sand and debris from the shark's mouth that had to be washed out extensively.
"We had to put muscle back together," Hardin said.

State Parks officials have closed Salmon Creek Beach and warnings of the attack are being posted along the coast from Jenner to Bodega Bay, Rude said.

The area is the site of past attacks involving great white sharks, Rude said.


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