On Sunday, a 10-year-old boy from Hampton County was bitten by a shark while playing in the ocean on a Hilton Head beach. A helicopter rushed him to a Savannah hospital for emergency surgery.
The Turrell family recently moved to South Carolina from Orlando and was visiting the Disney Beach House on Hilton Head on Sunday. 10-year-old Jei Turrell went down to the water to play in the ocean with his brother. He was in saltwater up to his waist when the attack occurred. A small shark took a bite out of his right arm, leaving him terrified and bleeding. His mother Tonya heard him screaming and was able to wrap a towel around his arm to help control the bleeding.
Jei was flown to the Memorial University Medical Center by helicopter where he underwent emergency surgery on Sunday. Doctors reported that the shark had bitten through the boy’s skin and tissue all the way to the ulna and radius beneath. He remained in the hospital to recover from his blood loss and trauma.
Based on Jei’s description of the shark, experts theorized that the attack was most likely perpetrated by a spinner shark or a blacktip shark, two of the most common species found in South Carolina waters. Typically, South Carolina sees an average of five shark attacks per year, but in 2017 there was an alarming uptick in attacks. In the summer of 2017 alone, eight shark attacks were reported; however, experts say they believe the increase is due to greater awareness that minor shark bites should be reported.
Most shark attacks in South Carolina do not result in serious wounds, as the sharks often mistake human legs and arms for their oceanic prey and dart away after realizing their error. No one has died from a shark bite in the US since 2015 and only four deaths from shark attacks have been recorded in South Carolina since 1900.