South Padre Island, Texas: 3 people injured in shark attacks in Texas and Florida on July 4th


Three people were bitten by sharks in separate attacks on July 4 off beaches in Texas and Florida, authorities said.

A 21-year-old Ohio man was rushed to the hospital after a shark bit him in the leg while playing soccer in “knee-deep water” at New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on Thursday afternoon, CNN affiliate WKMG reports.

Four people in Texas encountered sharks over the Independence Day holiday, including two who were bitten by sharks and another who was injured while trying to help, Texas authorities said.

“Details available at this time indicate that two people were bitten by sharks and two others encountered sharks but were not seriously injured,” the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said in a statement.

Both victims were taken to Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, where one was being treated and the other was airlifted for further treatment, the department said.

The department told CNN that a third person was injured while trying to help a victim — but not seriously. It's unclear how exactly they were hurt.

According to the department, another beachgoer reported feeling as though he or she touched the shark when it swam past him or her.

“When shark bites do occur, they are usually a case of mistaken identity by a shark seeking food,” the statement said.

Earlier, Capt. Chris Dowdy, a game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told CNN affiliate KRGV that at least four shark-related incidents had been reported on South Padre Island. He said the attacks were likely related to the same shark, which later swam out into open water.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, two off-duty Border Patrol agents from the Search, Trauma and Rescue Unit pulled one of the victims out of the water and bandaged his leg.

Two off-duty Border Patrol agents helped one of the victims, according to a post from the U.S. Border Patrol Laredo Sector.

Nikki Soto, the city's public information officer, told CNN that an assault was reported to the South Padre Island Police Department at about 11 a.m. Officers provided immediate medical attention and transported the male victim to a local hospital, Soto said.

He said the South Padre Island Beach Patrol, fire and police are patrolling the shoreline and using drones to keep an eye on the sharks.

Nereida Bazaldua told CNN her daughter was one of those bitten Thursday. Bazaldua said her two teenage daughters were playing on boogie boards in shallow, knee-deep water near the shore when they started yelling, “Shark!”

Bazaldua said when his 18-year-old daughter Victoria came out of the water, he saw “a little bit of blood coming from her leg.” Thankfully, Victoria's injuries were minor, he said.

“The shark pushed him, five to six of its teeth scratched his leg,” Bazaldua said. “The wounds are not deep.” Bazaldua said the shark stayed in the water for 20 to 30 minutes, then moved on.

“We didn't see the shark until he was with them,” he said. “There was no movement in the water and the ocean was calm. He just appeared out of nowhere.”

A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew very low over South Padre Island and took evasive measures to prevent the shark from coming close to shore after the encounter, a spokesperson said.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Aircraft Division responded to South Padre Island to assist local authorities with a shark attack,” Lt. Chris Olivarez said.

After the July 4 attacks, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flying at low altitude over South Padre Island spotted a shark in the water.

Olivarez shared video taken from a helicopter with CNN that showed a shark lurking in the water and swimming against the waves Thursday afternoon. “DPS remained on scene until the shark was gone,” Olivarez said.

According to the International Shark Attack File operated by the University of Florida, fewer than 10 shark bites have been reported in Texas since 2012. That puts the Lone Star state behind Florida — leading with 259 bite reports — Hawaii (76), South Carolina (45), North Carolina (31) and California (29).

South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families, and we wish them a speedy recovery.”

South Padre Island is about 100 miles from Padre Island National Seashore, which used to be one continuous island, according to the National Park Service.

The park service says Padre Island (also known as North Padre Island) is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, with 70 miles of protected shoreline. It separates the Gulf of Mexico from Laguna Madre.

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