FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A young boy underwent surgery to his hand after he was bitten while swimming off Fort Lauderdale Beach, and doctors believe the animal responsible was a shark.
Seven-year-old J.J. Sousa was visiting Fort Lauderdale Beach with his cousins on Thursday when he was attacked.
Speaking from his hospital bed on a cellphone video, the boy, who is in a lot pain, has no doubt as to what bit him.
“I got bitten by a shark,” he said.
The boy’s mother, Grace Sousa, said her son saw a school of fish while swimming in shallow water.
“My son went to the water to swim with his cousins, and he said he saw a big pile of fish coming up,” she said.
Suddenly, the boy’s mother said, he saw what he thought was a brown fish.
“It was a big brown fish coming up to him, bit his hand, took a chunk of tissue and left him all bitten,” she said.
The marine creature had chomped on his right hand.
Grace said her son pulled his hand from the water, and his family immediately saw blood gushing from it.
His family took him to the lifeguard who wrapped his hand. Loved ones then took the boy to Broward Health Medical Center.
“It was a big [bite], from here to here,” said Grace as she traced a line from the palm of her hand to just below her wrist. “He came up, [doctors] opened it up twice. They don’t want to open it anymore. Now he’s in surgery.”
Surgeons on Friday reconstructed J.J.’s hand tissue and tendons.
Grace said surgeons measured the wound size and the depth of the teeth marks, and they determined that it was a shark bite, especially since it ripped through the boy’s tendons.
However, Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue said it could have been a more narrow fish like a barracuda.
“I just want him to be able to move his hand. We’re very blessed that his hand is still attached,” said Grace.
The young boy said he feels traumatized and never wants to go back to the beach.
J.J. was the second child to be bitten at the beach in less than a week. Nine-year-old Jay Weiskopf was bitten on the shoulder near Second Street in South Beach on Sunday while visiting from Minnesota.
“The shark is trying to eat me,” said Weiskopf during a recent interview. “It was scary, and then it was trying to hurt.”
Weiskopf received about 100 stitches.
Experts said we are in the middle of one of the world’s largest shark migrations, and their trajectory takes them through South Florida beaches. Researchers said there could be thousands along the shoreline at any given time.
For J.J. that’s enough to keep him home.
“He’s in shock. He said he’ll never go back to the beach,” said his mother. “We go to the beach thinking that everything is safe. Yes, they had the flags saying the creatures were around, but what kind? Something that is going to take your arm off and leave you handicapped?”
While J.J. has no plans to go into the water anytime soon, he has a warning for other swimmers.
“Be careful and look around you and ask the lifeguard if you can go to the beach,” he said, “and I got bitten at Sunrise Beach, so be careful.”
J.J. is able to move his fingers, but it’s unclear if he will be able to move his thumb. Doctors believe he will be able to move his thumb in the future after he undergoes physical therapy.
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