At first, kayaker Chad Hammel thought an excited 13-year-old boy diving for lobster off a beach north of San Diego had made a catch, he told KFMB. He shouted encouragement to the teen.
“Then he kept screaming,” Hammel said, according to the station.
Hammel, one of about 30 people off Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas on Saturday morning for the opening of lobster fishing season, realized the boy had shouted, “I got bit! I got bit,” reported KSWB.
“I paddled to him, and there was a big wake of blood behind him,” Hammel said, according to KNSD. “His entire back was open. The shark hit him in the clavicle. The shark’s top teeth got him in his cheek.”
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Two other bystanders, an off-duty police officer and an off-duty state parks lifeguard, helped load the injured boy onto Hammel’s kayak to carry him to shore, reported KFMB.
Hammel shouted at other swimmers to get out of the water, reported the Los Angeles Times. Then he looked back.
“The shark was behind the kayak,” Hammel said, according to the publication. “He didn’t want to give up yet.”
Hammel and the others got the boy to shore, where he was airlifted to a nearby hospital in critical condition, said lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles, according to the Los Angeles Times. The teen’s mother had been on the beach at the time of the 7 a.m. attack.
On Monday, hospital officials upgraded his condition to serious but said he’s expected to make a full recovery, reported KFMB.
The shark, estimated to be 11 feet long, has not been seen again, Giles told KNSD. Officials have closed the water from Ponto Beach in Carlsbad to Swamis in Encinitas until Monday, although beaches remain open.
Officials are working with marine biologists to try to determine the species of the shark, reported KSWB. They plan to monitor the area for sharks via boat, helicopter and drones.