July 26, 2008
Shark’s bite ’severed’ surfer’s Achilles tendon
By KELLY CUCULIANSKY
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — A Mims teenager became the second shark bite victim this week when he finished catching a wave on his surfboard Friday morning near the jetty.
Ethan Fulton, 17, stepped off his board shortly after 9 a.m. and a shark snapped on the top and bottom of his foot and cut into a tendon, said his father, Bruce Fulton.
“The Achilles tendon was severed completely, from what I understand,” the elder Fulton said.
Fulton’s friends initially were going to drive him to the local hospital but called for help while they were on their way. An EVAC ambulance transported the teenager to Bert Fish Medical Center, where doctors performed a 3 1/2-hour surgery.
Hospital spokesman Garry Mac said Ethan Fulton was conscious when he arrived. Doctors repaired the damaged tendon and an artery and treated several of the smaller bites on the bottom and top of his right foot, Mac said.
He was expected to stay in the hospital overnight Friday.
Ethan Fulton’s father said a friend used a surfboard leash as a tourniquet just below the young man’s knee.
“These are smart kids.”
Ethan Fulton, a graduate of Astronaut High School in Titusville, will turn 18 Monday. He was well aware of New Smyrna Beach’s reputation for sharks, his father said.
While his son was still in the last hour of his surgery Friday afternoon, Bruce Fulton said that, despite being “in a lot of pain,” he is in good spirits.
“He’s already said he’ll go back out,” Bruce Fulton said. “I’d prefer he not surf here, but it’s OK to surf again.”
Ethan Fulton’s wounds mark the 15th shark bite to occur in Volusia County this year.
On Wednesday, a 15-year-old from Edgewater was bitten by a shark on his left foot while he was surfing near the jetty in Ponce Inlet. County Beach Patrol officials said the bite was a “provoked attack” because the teen stepped on the creature when he fell off his surfboard.
The shark activity has Volusia on track to match one of its worst shark bite years ever — 2001, the so-called year of the shark, when 21 bites were reported. There were 17 bites in Volusia last year.
According to researchers, July, August and September are when most shark bites occur.
– Reporter Seth Robbins contributed to this report.