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Surfer ‘grateful to be alive’ after shark bite near Channel Islands

California shark bite
Adam Coons is hoisted from a boat into a helicopter Saturday near Santa Rosa Island in an image taken from U.S. Coast Guard video.
(Associated Press )

A 37-year-old man surfing near the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara is listed as stable after a shark bit into his right leg on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified about 3:30 p.m. by a good Samaritan that a man had been bitten by a shark while surfing in the Channel Islands, Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said.

Adam Coons, 37, said he was surfing his last wave of the day near Santa Rosa Island on Saturday afternoon when the shark suddenly emerged.

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“It felt like I just got blasted by a torpedo,” Coons told ABC News. “I didn’t feel the bite from the adrenaline, and then I was immediately [submerged] underwater getting thrashed.”

Former lifeguard Jeremy Howard was aboard a nearby boat and pulled Coons to safety before applying a tourniquet to his leg while waiting for authorities.

A helicopter arrived, and Coons was flown to the Santa Barbara airport, where emergency medical technicians were waiting. From there, he was taken to a hospital, where he was listed as stable.

The Coast Guard posted a video on Twitter of Coons being lifted from the boat.

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A man who identified himself as a friend of the surfer said on Twitter that Coons was paddling out to surf from a boat when a 15-foot great white approached from below the surface, opened its mouth and bit down, shattering the surfer’s board. The shark then dragged him underwater before releasing him. His wet suit showed puncture marks, and his surfboard was destroyed.

Coons said he is expected to make a full recovery.

“This was truly a terrifying and horrific situation, and I am so happy and grateful to be alive,” he said, surrounded by stuffed shark toys friends have given him.

Barney said that although the shark bite was no doubt horrifying, it isn’t part of a trend.

“That was probably the first time in a long time that I’ve heard of that … but it’s definitely something people should be aware of,” he said, calling Coons “very lucky.”

The Channel Islands, which are home to sea lions and other prey, are a prime habitat for great white sharks, Chris Lowe, a biology professor and director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, has previously told the Los Angeles Times.

In 2018, there were 66 cases of unprovoked shark attacks on humans worldwide, according to the International Shark Attack File, compiled by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the American Elasmobranch Society.

The United States had 32 attacks — the highest number of any country — with one fatal incident, a decline from the previous year. California saw one attack. For decades, Florida has been the state with the most unprovoked attacks.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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