Shark attack victim in Massachusetts, says he struck the predator in the gills to escape



Shark attack victim punches predator in the gills to escape

61-year-old neurologist from New York, who was on vacation in Massachusetts, says he remembered the documentaries that gills were the most sensitive part of a shark, when he was attacked off the coast of Cape Cod.

A man who was bitten by a suspected great white shark earlier this month on a Cape Cod beach said in his first interview on Tuesday, he was able to escape after punching the predator in the gills.

William Lytton, 61, Scarsdale, new york, told the Associated Press that he was swimming a few metres from the shore in the Long Corner on the Beach in Truro, Mass. when the shark bit down on his leg.

“I was terrified, but really, there was no time to think,” he told the AP after attending physical therapy session at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

William Lytton, Scarsdale, new york, left, is assisted by physical therapist Caitlin Geary at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, while recovering from a shark attack.

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The 61-year-old said that he smacked the shark’s gills with his left hand, which resulted in three torn tendons. Lytton told the AP that he should be recalled from the nature documentaries that the gills were one of the most vulnerable parts of the shark.

“It doesn’t feel like I did something heroic,” he said. “A lot of this was luck.”


The shark missed critical nerves and veins, and not any damage of Lytton’s bones, according to a trauma surgeon who treated Lytton. The 61-year-old still had to undergo eight operations, and it was almost 12 litres of blood in addition to hundreds of sutures to stich him back together again.

Lytton suffered deep puncture wounds to his leg and torso after being attacked by a shark on Aug. 15, 2018 during the swim from a beach, in Truro, Mass.

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“These were extensive, very severe injuries,” trauma surgeon Eric Mahoney told the AP. “He had multiple lacerations from his hip down to just above his knee that went 75% around the leg. In two areas they went all the way down to the bone.”


Officials are still trying to determine if Lytton was bitten by a great white shark, and the study of the teeth removed from his leg. Plenty of great white sightings have been reported in the area this summer.

William Lytton, Scarsdale, new york, right, talks with physical therapist Caitlin Geary during physical therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, while recovering from a shark attack.

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The last shark attack happened in Truro in 2012, when a Colorado man in Ballston Beach was bitten. He was treated and received 47 stitches. The area is a breeding ground for seals, which draw of shark and a few witnesses reported seeing seals for the attack.

Despite the public fear of sharks, the chance of being killed by an approximately 1 in 3.7 million, according to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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