OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - He had just ridden a wave in when he felt it. Something pull on his foot, and pull him off his surfboard. Nineteen-year-old Austin Reed is recovering Tuesday from surgery on his foot after he says he was bitten by a shark Monday off Ocean Isle Beach.
“I felt pressure on my leg and it kind of yanked me," Reed said.
According to Reed, a UNCW student, he and his friend, Tyler, had been surfing for about 20 minutes around 2 p.m. Monday. When he was pulled off his board, Reed yelled to Tyler he thought a shark bit him. Tyler threw Reed on his surfboard and paddled them both to shore.
When they got there, Reed hopped on one leg down the beach to his family, blood dripping from his foot the whole way. His mom, who is an emergency room nurse, wrapped up the wound until paramedics got there. Reed was brought to New Hanover Regional Hospital, where doctors reconstructed a joint capsule and fixed a tendon in his foot Monday night. He was discharged around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Reed and his family said they’re thankful it wasn’t worse.
“I really don’t think they need to stop surfing, but I think they always need to surf with a friend and especially with a good friend like Tyler that hopped in the water and put him on his board,” Kimberly Reed, Austin’s mom, said.
"I think really he’s the hero in this situation ... his friend Tyler,” Kimberly said.
Austin, an avid surfer, said he felt weird as he walked into the ocean Monday.
“The waves were really big, so I thought it was going to be a really fun day and I go out there, and I’m like, ‘wow, the waves are really big.' I told him [Tyler] for some reason that if any day were I to get bitten by a shark it would be today. I don’t know why I said that. The water just looked kind of not really like ‘sharky,’ but it just looked weird for some reason," Reed said.
Austin and his family said they hope his experience doesn’t scare others away from the beach.
“We never would be doing this today sitting her with smiles if it had been worse, but we’re just so grateful. We love the beach," Kimberly said.
“We love the ocean. We love surfing and aren’t going to stop being there, but [we will] be a little more cautious in the future,” Kimberly said.
He plans to be back on his board once he recovers, but will never surf alone.
“I think I’ll be really paranoid if I were to go back, but I don’t think that’s going to stop me forever from going back in the water because I feel like there’s a chance of anything happening when you do something. If you get in a car accident when you’re in a car, that’s not going to stop you from driving. I’ll be back in the water,” Austin said.
He’ll stick to indoor activities for now, though.
“I can find another hobby. I know my friend Tyler, he said we should probably take up a new hobby for a little bit, maybe video games,” Austin said.
Reed and his family plan to reach out to Paige Winter who was bitten by a shark earlier this month at Fort Macon State Park. Winter lost her leg in the attack and had damage to her hands.