VIDEO: Shark bite survivor needed 800 stitches, recounts attack by nine-foot shark

Luckily this dude was as big as he was, 800 stitches? (rolls eyes)…


Shark bite survivor needed hundreds of stitches:

Shark bite survivor needed hundreds of stitches
CJ Wickersham recounts attack by nine-foot shark

Updated: Wednesday, 28 Sep 2011, 8:53 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 28 Sep 2011, 8:53 PM EDT

Stef DiPietrantonio
FOX 13 News

ST. PETERSBURG – When CJ Wickersham was attacked by a bull shark in the Gulf Of Mexico, his leg was ripped open and the shoreline was miles and miles away. It was his friends who made sure he survived.

The fact that CJ can wiggle his toes now is nothing short of a miracle. He and six friends were lazily soaking the day away in the sun, free diving and spear fishing, not far off of Anna Maria Island.

The relaxing day took a horrifying turn when CJ screamed he had been bitten by a shark, and blood began spreading through the water.

CJ talked about the attack from his hospital bed Wednesday, saying at first he thought it was a friend tugging on his leg.

“And I was sitting there, catching my breath, then all of the sudden it hit me,” CJ said, recalling the sneak attack, good-naturedly now, with a smile. “Teeth so sharp you didn’t even feel it.”

But when he reached back, he could feel his exposed femur bone.

“I just kinda looked and I reached around and felt it and that’s when I put my head out of the water and yelled and they came over,” he said.

The quick action of his friends are the reason CJ is alive today, and CJ’s mom says she is “beyond thankful.”

“I can’t thank them enough, my husband Mark and I,” Ella Wickersham said.

At 6’2″, 240 pounds, CJ is a big guy, and that may have helped him: he had lost around five units of blood, and was near going into shock by the time he’d been placed on the helicopter to be flown to Bayfront Hospital in St. Petersburg.

The bull-nosed shark was around nine feet long. CJ got lucky that the shark only bit him once, and didn’t shake its head. If the shark had shaken its head while still gripping CJ’s leg, he could have lost it.

“I hit him with both my hands,” CJ said. “I let go of my gun, hit him with both my hands. I kind of looked and could see it was all — and blood starting coming everywhere.”

At Bayfront, the doctors were able to stabilize the massive wound on Saturday, and they finally closed it on Monday.

“The first surgery, we weren’t sure they could save the flap,” CJ’s mom said. “Because the shark had bit through all that muscle.”

CJ said it took around 600 to 800 stitches to close the roughly 14-inch wound that runs from his knee to his upper left thigh — enough surgical thread to span the length of a football field.

An “X” marks the spot, written on his foot, where doctors easily found a strong pulse to his lower left leg — a terrific sign he will be okay.

In the meantime, the well-wishes have been pouring in from all over the country.

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