A former editor-in-chief at The Boston Herald suffered serious injuries after he dramatically tried to fight off a 7-foot shark Wednesday off the coast of North Carolina.
Andrew F. Costello reportedly came face-to-face with the monster while vacationing with his family at the coastal town of Ocracoke.
Costello, 68, was swimming with his son around noon when the attack occurred.
"I could see from where I was standing that he had a big baseball-sized chunk of flesh taken off of his leg right above his knee and there was a lot of blood everywhere," Jackson Fuqua, 15, who witnessed the attack, told The Boston Herald.
“I saw a big trail of blood from the water to where the man was laying down on a beach towel. There were a lot of EMS workers all around him and they were frantically trying to help him and work to close the wounds he had,” Fuqua told the paper.
Costello suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and hands, according to the paper. He is reportedly in fair condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
"He's doing well," his niece told the paper. "He's smiling."
Costello is the seventh person attacked along the North Carolina coast in three weeks, the most in at least 15 years. Most swimmers were attacked in shallow water. The injuries ranged from minor injuries to the heel and ankle of an 8-year-old boy in Surf City, to unspecified but initially critical injuries to an 18-year-old man bitten Saturday on a national seashore about 25 miles north of Cape Hatteras.
There have been at least 10 shark attacks in the Carolinas so far in 2015, according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida. The first reported attack this year occurred on May 15 off South Carolina at Sullivan’s Island, and two shark attacks were reported 90 minutes apart on June 14, when a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy each lost an arm while swimming at Oak Island in North Carolina.
Shark experts say the recent spate of attacks along on the coast of the Carolinas is due to so many more people getting in the water. Americans made 2.2 billion visits to beaches in 2010, up from 2 billion in 2001, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate.
Roger Rulifson, a distinguished professor of biology and senior scientist at East Carolina University, said recently that there have been reports of small bait fish coming closer to shore this summer, which attracts sharks. There have also been reports of larger numbers of sea turtles along the coast, which sharks also like to eat, he said.
Laura Irish Hefty of New Hope, Pa., said she was about 100 yards away when she saw a crowd gathering on the beach and went to investigate. She said her husband, David, saw blood on both legs of the latest victim, who turned out to be Costello.
Swimmers were back in the water at that spot within a couple of hours after the attack, Hefty said.
"Nobody seems to be that scared," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.