“MSNBC STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
AVON, N.C., Sept. 4 — In the first such strike in North Carolina waters in 44 years, a shark attacked a couple Monday evening as they swam in the Outer Banks, killing the man and leaving the woman in critical condition. The attack came just two days after a 10-year-old boy was mauled to death off the Virginia coast.
THE COUPLE, Russian nationals living in the Washington area, were swimming some 50 feet offshore in chest-deep water when they were attacked, Lawrence Belli, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, told NBC’s “Today” show.
Belli said that while sharks are seen daily off the park’s shoreline, none had ever been reported as attacking a human. The last reported fatal shark attack anywhere in North Carolina waters came in 1957, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla.
The beach remains open, Belli added, though biologists and officials will be going out Tuesday to check for any “unusual concentration of sharks” off the Outer Banks barrier islands. Aircraft and boats were being used to monitor the waters.
The Outer Banks, a popular vacation destination, feature miles of dune-covered beaches and national parklands. Three types of sharks are common in the area: the sand tiger shark, bull shark and scalloped hammerhead.
While records don’t indicate an increase in shark attacks this year over previous years, the North Carolina and Virginia attacks are unusual given that they happened in colder waters where sharks are less common. The warmer waters of Florida, in contrast, have the highest rate of shark attacks in the United States.
WOMAN CRITICAL BUT STABLE
The victims were identified as Sergi Zaloukaev, 28, and Natalia Slobonskaya, 23. The two were recently engaged.
Witness Gary Harkin, of Columbus, Ohio, said the man was able to return to shore.
“He was still talking when he came out of the water,” Harkin told The Virginian-Pilot.
Harkin said he tried to put a tourniquet on the man’s leg with his T-shirt.
Meanwhile, Harkin’s friend, Carolyn Richards, administered CPR. “I did have a pulse on him twice, but I lost him,” she said.
The man died on arrival at a local hospital. The woman was in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit at Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., where she was flown by helicopter.
Although the woman had lost a lot of blood and went into shock, she received medical treatment very quickly and was resuscitated.
Dr. Jeffrey Riblet told “Today” that the victim’s left foot had to be amputated and that she had a large buttock wound. She has been communicating with relatives, he added, but he was not sure if she was aware of her fianc?’s death.
The woman has been heavily sedated, Riblet said, and while her life is no longer in danger she faces “a long, slow road” to recovery.
SECOND ATTACK IN THREE DAYS
Residents and workers along the popular stretch of beach in Avon, N.C., were stunned by the attack and were asking if it was safe to return to the water.
“My son fishes and surfs these waters all the time,” said Carlene Beckham, an employee of the Avon Fishing Pier. “But after seeing what happened today he said he’s not so sure anymore.”
Monday’s attack came just two days after a deadly shark attack near Virginia Beach, Va., about 135 miles north of Avon.
Ten-year-old David Peltier, who died early Sunday, was described as an “upbeat, happy-go-lucky” boy, about to enter the fifth grade. He was enjoying his last weekend of summer break at the beach when tragedy struck Saturday.
Peltier was bitten in the leg while standing on a sandbar in about 4 feet of water just 50 yards off Virginia’s coast. The shark ripped a 17-inch gash in his left leg and released him from its grip only after the boy’s father hit the shark on the head. The father carried David ashore but the boy died hours later after losing large amounts of blood from a severed artery.
It was the latest in a string of shark attacks on the East Coast this summer, but Virginia Beach officials said they would not close their beaches because no other sharks were spotted.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. “