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Wednesday
Jul202011

Shark Attacks Child Off North Carolina Coast

Ablestock.com(OCRACOKE, N.C.) -- A 6-year-old girl is in critical condition after being attacked by a shark on a North Carolina beach Tuesday evening.

The child was swimming with her father in shallow water when she was bitten on the right leg and part of her foot, according to Kenny Ballance of the National Park Service for Cape Hatteras.

The child was swimming on a boogie board in about a foot of water.

Hyde County EMS, the National Park Service and the Ocracoke Fire Department responded to a call at Ramp 72 on Ocracoke Island.

"The Ocracoke EMS and another park ranger, Shane Bryant, [were] on the scene right away," Ballance said. "The rescue squad began working on the little girl when ranger Bryant arrived. It was apparent that she was bitten below the knee in the foot area is the report."

Pitt Memorial Hospital flew a helicopter into Ocracoke Beach and flew the child to the hospital in Greenville.

"We were told she was in stable condition, then we called this morning to learn she's in critical condition," Ballance said.

Authorities said the last shark attack in Cape Hatteras was a fatal one.

"The last shark attack in Cape Hatteras was in 2004 and that was in one of the villages north of us here," Ballance said. "... the guy was bitten in a major artery and he bleed to death before we were able to get to him."

Ocracoke Island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The entire island is owned by the U.S. National Park Service, except for the village.

A 10-year-old girl was attacked by a shark earlier this month in North Topsail Beach in North Carolina. Cassidy Cartwright of Erie, Pa., like the 6-year-old victim, was also playing on a body board and was wading knee-deep in only 3.5 feet of water.

Biologist Andy Dehart told ABC News earlier this month that the murky water around the North Carolina shore is often to blame for unprovoked shark attacks in this area.

The Florida Museum of Natural History keeps an international shark attack file, which was last updated in January. It shows 41 unprovoked shark attacks from 1935 to 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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