Video: Shark attack not normal ‘hit and run’

  1. Closed captioning of: Shark attack not normal ‘hit and run’

    >>> thank you. we're learning more this morning about the circumstances surrounding g a deadly shark attack on a kiteboarder. the lifeguard who risked his life to try to save that man will share his story in an exclusive live interview in a moment. first, nbc's kristen dahlgren has the details. kristen , good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, matt. this is the first fatal shark attack here in martin county since 1882 and 1 of just 14 on record in florida's history. so, people here know that there are sharks off the coast, but they never expected anything like this, especially for such an experienced sportsman. these are the waters stephen schafer grew up in, surfing and kite boarding . he spent hours on the waves. it's where friends say he was always at home. but wednesday afternoon, lifeguard dan lunde spotted him in the water and in trouble.

    >> normally, they get the kite and get back up and go, but this time he wasn't, and he was laying across the kite itself.

    >> so, lunde grabbed his surf board and paddled a quarter mile through rough seas to get to schafer , who said he had been bitten by sharks.

    >> there was a lot of blood in the water.

    >> reporter: blood and maybe two or three sharks. he knew firsthand the danger they were in. he was attacked by a shark almost 25 years ago.

    >> what sharks do in my own experience, they tend to bite first, to wound whatever prey they're going after, and then they come back to, you know, continue.

    >> reporter: so, battling four to six-foot seas, he pulled the surfer to shore, talking to him along the way, but by the time they reached land, schafer had lost too much blood, leaving friends to remember the son of a marine artist as a calm, quiet man, raised to love and respect the water. earlier this week, friends say schafer had seen these pictures of hundreds of sharks schooling just off the coast. now shark expert dr. george burgess has been brought in to try to figure out what happened to schafer .

    >> to where the shark makes a quick grab and let's go and isn't seen again. we call them run attacks. that's the norm for florida. this was not that. this was the real thing. this was a thing where the shark bit at a human being with some intention to do damage and probably a feeding event.

    >> reporter: burgess will try to determine what type of sharks killed schafer while his friends only know he died doing what he loved.

    >> steve was just so passionate about being in the outdoors and about being around the water that he couldn't just surf and then put away the surf board when there are no waves. he had to stay out there in one form or the other.

    >> reporter: so, while sadly, it does happen, that shark expert says the chances of being bit by a shark are infantecimal, so the beaches remain open. friends hope to some day build a monument for him along the way. they say he would hate for people to stay away .

    >> kristen dahlgren, thank you so

updated 4/12/2010 4:40:29 PM ET 2010-04-12T20:40:29

A shark bite victim pulled from the ocean off South Florida died from massive blood loss and was likely bitten by just one shark, authorities said Friday.

Stephen Schafer, 38, was kiteboarding about a quarter-mile offshore in Stuart, 100 miles north of Miami, when he went into the water and was surrounded by at least three sharks, according to the lifeguard who pulled him from the ocean.

Schafer died a short time later at a hospital.

Dr. Linda O'Neil, an associate medical examiner in Martin County, said Friday he died from blood loss.

She said he suffered two shark bites, most likely from the same animal. It was not clear exactly what type of shark bit him.

Video: Lifeguard feared shark feeding frenzy O'Neil said Schafer was bitten on the buttocks and on the right thigh. His right hand was also wounded, but that apparently happened when the shark bit his thigh.

"It looks like the shark hit his leg and he put his hand down there and that became part of the same bite," O'Neil said.

The thigh wound, which severed branches of the femoral artery, was fatal.

"That was the more significant wound and would have caused death even without that bite to the buttocks," O'Neil said.

It was the first deadly shark attack in Florida in five years. The last was in 2005 off the Panhandle, where a 14-year-old Louisiana girl was attacked while swimming about 100 yards off shore.

The International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History lists 1,032 documented shark attacks in the U.S. since 1690. Fifty were fatal. Florida leads the world in the number of shark attacks annually.

Authorities say a man attacked by at least one shark in the ocean off South Florida died from massive blood loss.

Stephen Schafer was pulled from the water about a quarter-mile offshore in Stuart on Wednesday. The lifeguard who brought him to shore says he saw up to three sharks circling the 38-year-old in a bloody pool.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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