A young man was killed on Saturday after he was attacked by a shark while boogie boarding off a beach in Cape Cod. According to reports, this marked Massachusetts’ first recorded shark attack death since 1936.
Not too many details were revealed about the unnamed victim, who was described by authorities as a 26-year-old male, according to the New York Post. However, Wellfleet Police representative Lt. Michael Hurley noted that the man died from his injuries after he was attacked in the waters off Wellfleet’s Newcomb Hollow Beach around noon on Saturday. The victim was then taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
“Today is just keeping everyone out of [the] water,” said Hurley, explaining that Newcomb Hollow Beach is indefinitely closed to swimming in the aftermath of the attack.
“There’ll be a determination later about what the town wants to do with the beaches going forward.”
While it was reported that the man was the first shark attack fatality in Massachusetts in more than eight decades, the attack was not the first of its kind in Cape Cod for the current shark season. On August 15, 61-year-old William Lytton of Scarsdale, New York suffered serious injuries while fighting off a shark at Long Nook Beach in Truro, about four miles north of where this weekend’s attack took place. The New York Post noted that Lytton is still recovering in a Boston hospital exactly one month after the incident.
#BREAKING: Police said that the #shark attack victim has died from the injuries he suffered at a Wellfleet beach today. More on this tragic story: https://t.co/fHti52g0y6 #CapeCod pic.twitter.com/HQBEFKphfD— Cape Cod Times (@capecodtimes) September 15, 2018
Wellfleet fisherman and surfer Joe Booth was one of the first people who witnessed Saturday’s shark attack, as he related how he saw the victim and a male friend boogie boarding when the shark swam toward them. Although he noticed what looked to be a tail protruding out of the water as the victim “aggressively” kicked something behind him, per the New York Post, Booth only realized the gravity of the situation when the friend dragged the badly injured victim to shore.
“I was that guy on the beach screaming, ‘Shark, shark!’ It was like right out of that movie Jaws. This has turned into Amity Island real quick out here.”
Another witness, former lifeguard Hayley Williamson, said that she was surprised to see the man being rushed in an ambulance following the shark attack. She described the attack as a case of the two men being at the “right spot [and the] wrong time.”
Prior to Saturday’s incident, the last person to die in Massachusetts after a shark attack was Joseph Troy Jr., a 16-year-old boy from Dorchester who was killed on July 25, 1936, in the town of Mattapoisett. According to Boston.com, many people had a hard time believing Troy was killed by a shark, as “great white” sightings were still very rare at that time.
The last shark attack fatality in the United States prior to Saturday’s incident took place on April 29, 2015, when a 65-year-old woman named Margaret Cruse was found dead off Maui, having been bitten in her upper chest while snorkeling.