13-year-old boy attacked by shark near San Diego in 'serious condition'

Boy was diving for lobsters

By ARTEMIS MOSHTAGHIAN AND DAKIN ANDONE, CNN
Mario Tama/Getty Images

(CNN) - A 13-year-old boy who was attacked by a shark early Saturday is still in serious condition, downgraded from the critical condition he was in originally, according to Dr. Tim Fairbanks, chief of pediatric and trauma surgery at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

The boy was attacked while diving for lobsters in waters off Encinitas, California, authorities said. Encinitas is about 25 miles north of San Diego.

The boy suffered traumatic injuries to his upper torso, Encinitas lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said. The injury was very large and deep in his chest, Fairbanks said.

The attack happened before 7 a.m., about 150 to 200 yards from Beacon's Beach, Giles said.

Several people were in the water diving for lobsters, he said, because it was the opening of the season for catching the crustaceans. Three good Samaritans heard the boy's cries and helped bring him ashore using a kayak, Giles said. One of the rescuers was a lifeguard sergeant who was among those diving for lobsters.

Lifeguards had been on duty early Saturday because of two nearby events, and the response to the attack was "very short," Giles said.

"The lifeguard was within a quarter-mile of the incident with a lifeguard truck and arrived on scene and started providing first aid right away," he said. The lifeguard was an emergency medical technician, Giles added.

Paramedics arrived soon after, and the boy was taken to the hospital. He was conscious and talking on the beach, Giles said, as well as on his way to the hospital.

Chad Hammel said he was one of the people in the water who helped.

Hammel said he thought the boy was just excited when he first heard him shouting.

"And then I realized that he was yelling, 'I got bit! Help, help,' " Hammel said.

He didn't realize the extent of the boy's injuries until he and a friend put him on their kayak.

"Once we got him on the kayak we could really see what happened," Hammel said. "And his whole clavicle's ripped open; you could see the ball and socket joint and everything."

The beach was reopened on Monday, Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said.

Nearby beaches between Ponto Beach and Swami's Beach were closed for 48 hours after the attack, Giles said. One scheduled surf event was canceled.

Giles said there was a nonfatal shark attack earlier this year at Camp Pendleton, north of Encinitas.

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