Longboat Key man bitten by shark


Longboat Key man bitten by shark

By Halle Stockton
Published: Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 4:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 6:57 p.m.

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The tables turned on a 21-year-old man when he became a shark’s target while spearfishing with friends off the coast of Anna Maria Island on Saturday.

Longboat Key resident Charles Wickersham sustained a severe bite wound by what appeared to be a bull shark that clamped down and tore back flesh so deep it exposed his thigh bone, said West Manatee Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Dennis Dotson.

It is only the fifth reported unprovoked shark attack in Manatee County since 1882; Sarasota County has seen seven attacks in that same time, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

Wickersham’s injuries were not considered life threatening; he was was flown by emergency helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg for treatment.

“He had a substantial loss of blood, but he had good pulses and sensations,” Dotson said. “He was alert, conscious and talking when they airlifted him out.”

Wickersham, a 2008 Manatee High School graduate, was spearfishing in 40 feet of water about 3 to 6 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico around 3 p.m. Saturday when the shark attacked.

Wickersham’s five friends were able to load him in their 24-foot boat and drive to the Rod and Reel Pier on North Shore Drive at Anna Maria’s northern tip.

An employee at the Rod & Reel Pier said he did not know anything about the attack other than “it is not good for business.”

Paramedics and deputies treated the injury to Wickersham’s left thigh while awaiting the helicopter.

The crescent-shaped gash was about 15 inches long with deep puncture wounds on one side.

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