Shark Attack

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

Normally November is a little late in the season for shark attacks, but that's exactly what happened to a Gulf County teenager, bitten Sunday off Cape San Blas.

A Port St. Joe High School student is now the third person bitten by a shark in the panhandle this year.

John Larsen is like any other teenager in the panhandle. He sees the beaches as a place to wind down and have fun with his buddies, but this past weekend his trip to the Gulf was not the adventure he expected.

“I should have gone to breakfast Sunday morning instead of going surfing.”

This past Sunday John Larsen would catch more than waves. As he straddled his surfboard in the water with his buddies in the area known as “the stumphole” not far from where a shark bite occurred earlier this year, Larsen felt a tug on his foot.

John Larsen said, “It felt like someone grabbed my foot and shook it, so it startled me and I brought my foot back, and the shark swam over my board once I did that.”

That's when Larsen says he knew it was time to head to dry land.

“I didn't freak out. I was really worrying about getting back into shore so I didn't get bit again. It was my friends that were freaking out more than I was.”

He was then picked up by a passer-by who took him to a local convenience store.

“He was driving around the curve at ‘the stumphole’ and he stopped and picked us up. I just collapsed in the road. I figured he's either going to run me over or pick me up.”

The clerks on duty treated his wounds before the ambulance arrived to take him to Bay Medical Center. Larsen becomes the third panhandle shark attack victim this year.

Craig Hutto from Tennessee was severely wounded in April, not more than a few hundred feet from the spot where Larsen was attacked. Hutto lost his right leg as a result of the encounter.

The other victim, 14-year-old Jamie Marie Daigle, died when a shark attacked her off Mirimar Beach in Walton County.

Despite those tragedies, Larsen is trying to keep a sense of humor about the attack. Monday was his 17th birthday.

“This is the sick humor that every one had. The birthday card, ‘birthdays bite,’ and they gave me a little shark tooth inside of it. That's pretty sick.”

Larsen says it’s going to take more than a shark attack to make him give up surfing. He plans to be back in the water as soon as his doctor gives him the okay.

Another surfer near new Smyrna Beach was attacked by a shark Saturday. The shark bit his hands and arm; however, he will survive.


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