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North Carolina shark attack victim says fortunate to survive

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  • AP
    People surround and attend to a 68-year-old man that was bit by a shark in waist-deep water off Ocracoke Island

RALEIGH, N.C. >> The latest survivor in a record-breaking string of seven North Carolina shark attacks said Thursday he’s very fortunate to be alive and thankful for the emergency help he received after struggling ashore.

The shark attack was frightening and painful, said Andrew Costello. Now he’s focused on recovering.

"I feel very fortunate to have survived thanks to the incredible assistance I received from medical personnel on the beach, both those on duty and vacation," Costello, 68, said in a statement issued by the hospital where he is recovering.

Costello received a major, but non-lethal shark bite to his thigh at midday Wednesday and underwent emergency treatment at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, said Dr. Eric Toschlog, the hospital’s chief of trauma and acute care surgery. Costello will need multiple additional operations but was upgraded to good condition Thursday, Toschlog said in a statement.

Costello was bitten repeatedly in waist-deep water off Ocracoke Island on the state’s Outer Banks. Reports list Costello’s hometown as Wareham, Massachusetts, National Park Service Outer Banks spokeswoman Cyndy Holda said. He was the former editor-in-chief of the Boston Herald, the newspaper reported Thursday.

Costello suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and both hands as he tried to fight off the animal, said Justin Gibbs, director of emergency services in Hyde County. The attack happened on a beach watched by a lifeguard as Costello swam in waist-deep water some 30 feet offshore, the National Park Service said in a news release. No other swimmers were injured.

The seven people attacked by sharks in the past three weeks is the most for the state’s coast in the 80 years for which the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File keeps records.

Most of this year’s shark attacks happened in shallow water. The injuries ranged widely: An 8-year-old boy had only minor wounds to his heel and ankle, while at least two other people required amputation. Another person, attacked Saturday, had initially been considered at critical risk of dying.

Safety officials are trying to find patterns in the series of shark attacks on the North Carolina coast that might help keep the key tourism region safe for visitors, Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday.

"I am going to be talking to my secretary of public safety to see if there is any one fit-all approach to dealing with this issue. I doubt there is because each circumstance is so different," McCrory said.

Local governments could consider restrictions on luring sharks to fishing hooks around areas where people swim, especially during the summer tourist season, McCrory said.

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