Skip to comments.SHARK ATTACK Surfer had to fight off shark to rescue girl, punching the animal
Posted on 06/27/2005 8:39:11 AM PDT by ppaul
A Florida surfer said he acted as ''bait'' to try to distract the shark while he wrestled the 14-year-old girl onto his surfboard: ''I've never been so scared in my life.'' The teen later died.
Off Miramar Beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida's Panhandle, longtime surfer Tim Dicus has seen the dark, lithe shadows dart beneath the water -- the glistening gray fins split the waves.
He was once even bumped by a shark, he said. But Saturday was different. Dicus tussled in the water with what experts say was most likely an 8-foot-long hungry bull shark hellbent on snatching a dying 14-year-old girl from the surface.
''The shark kept coming back around,'' said Dicus, 54, who punched the shark on its snout as it circled the girl in bloody water.
A day after the horrific attack near Destin, a still-shaken Dicus said he had a sleepless night. ''I've never been so scared in my life,'' he said. ``It was like the movie Jaws, except I was in it.''
Jamie Marie Daigle, of Gonzales, La. did not survive the attack by the shark as she was boogie boarding with her best friend about 250 yards offshore.
It was around 11:15 a.m., the beach full of tourists and locals. Dicus was surfing. He said he suddenly heard screaming and saw a girl swimming frantically to the shore. When he reached Jaime, she was bobbing face down. One of her legs had been cleaved to the bone from knee to thigh, he said. He saw the pool of blood in the water.
The shark made another snap at her hand, but missed because Dicus pulled it out of reach.
He hoisted the unconscious girl onto his surfboard. All the while, the shark continued to try to get to her, Dicas said. He circled the surfboard. Dicas said he struck the shark hard with his fist once. It did little to discourage the animal.
Dicas finally towed her to a sandbar where two other men were ready with another board and a raft to paddle the girl back to shore.
Using himself as live bait, Dicus said, ``I swam away from them and started slapping the water and kicking to distract the shark.''
Once ashore, paramedics tried to revive the teen, but she had likely lost too much blood.
George Burgess, a researcher at the University of Florida, who investigates shark attacks worldwide, was at the scene and called the attack ''unusual'' for Florida water, mainly because of the shark's aggression.
''This was not a normal Florida attack,'' Burgess said. ''Usually a shark will make a mistake, thinking it's a fish,'' Burgess said. ``In this instance, the shark apparently very knowingly went after a large prey item and persistently tried to follow through on its normal feeding behavior, which would be to come back and attack again and again.''
It was the third unprovoked fatality this year, he said.
On Sunday, a bloody spot in the sand marked where paramedics worked on Jamie, who had come to the vacation spot with her best friends' parents.
Back in her hometown of Gonzales, a suburb of Baton Rouge, parishioners of St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church mourned the teen's death, calling her ''very beautiful and popular.'' Pastor Gary Belsome, who is also a friend of the Daigle family, said they were dealing with the grief as best as they could.
''At all of the masses yesterday and today, we informed the community about the death and asked them for prayers,'' Belsome said.
Jaime, an accomplished student who was a day camp counselor at the church, was preparing to start high school in August at the prestigious St. Joseph's Academy, an all-girl Catholic school in Baton Rouge.
Last week, she finished a computer prep course with her best friend, who was also admitted to St. Joseph's in the fall.
Jaime had gone with her friend's family on an RV trip to Florida for the weekend. The girls had likely known each other since kindergarten, Belsome said.
Belsome, who spent time with the family Sunday, said that despite the tragedy, the family took solace in that she died while having fun with a good friend.
The Walton County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy today to officially determine the size and species of the shark involved Saturday, believed to be a bull shark.
On Sunday, the 20-mile stretch of beach that officials had closed after the attack had been opened.
''It was business as usual, or almost as usual,'' said Capt. Danny Glidewell, who said the incident was the first of its kind in Walton County.
He said there had been no sightings by midday Sunday. His department had doubled the number of life guards on patrol. A boat was out scanning the water for the predatory fish. Helicopters were also deployed to scour the waters for sharks. Dicus said he had gotten a phone call from Jamie's father thanking him for going out to get her.
``They said they wouldn't have been able to have a normal funeral, if I hadn't gone out there. The shark would have taken her under for good.''
Good for that guy.
Since this is America . . . when is his book coming out?
We've been on the beach when the lifeguards tell people to get out because there's a shark, and some people just ignore them. Not me!!!
This is such a sad story. I realize the odds are very small of getting bitten much less killed by a shark, but what an awful way to go.
I pray for her family.
He had a lot of courage to hit the shark, especially from a surfboard.
Brave guy. Too bad the girl had lost too much blood to be saved.
Something in the water bigger than me??? Time to get out.
This sad incident happened here over the weekend. JAWS II was filmed here in the late 70's or early 80's............
You here the word "hero" thrown around all too often these days - and often inappropriately. But in my book the guy who tried to rescue her rightfully deserves that title.
Exactly how does one pronounce that?
You're right, he was a real hero. He admitted he was afraid. That is what bravery is. You are afraid, but you do what needs to be done anyway.
Mr. Dicus is a hero in my book. God bless him for his efforts.
On foxnews this morning (with him right there) they pronounced it with a long I sound....
They say this every time, don't they?
How many provoked fatalities were there?
A 54 year old surfer? I can just picture that guy, still in the "dude" phase of life.. but ya know what? He is a HERO in my eyes, and deserves alot of credit.
Very sad story. Mr. Dicas is a hero.
250 yards is a pretty long way out there, isn't it?