ONE dead, another in critical condition after second deadly shark attack of holiday weekend


Tuesday, September 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



MANTEO, N.C. (AP) _ A man was killed, apparently by a shark, as he and his girlfriend swam in shallow water along the North Carolina shore, the latest in a rising tide of East Coast shark attacks and the second deadly one of the weekend.

Coast Guard aircraft patrolled the ocean Tuesday off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore with crews and a marine biologist watching for sharks, Mary Doll, a National Park Service spokeswoman, said at a morning news conference.

David Griffin, director of North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, said an autopsy on the dead man would confirm whether a shark was to blame.

Three types of sharks are common in the area along the Outer Banks: sand tiger, bull and scalloped hammerhead.

Monday's attack, the first fatal one off North Carolina's coast in more than 40 years, came less than two days after a 10-year-old boy was killed by a shark near Virginia Beach, about 135 miles up the shore.

Beaches were open Tuesday but officials advised swimmers to be cautious, especially near dusk and dawn when sharks tend to look for food near the shore.

``I don't know if I would use the word 'afraid,''' Griffin said. '``Respect' is better.''

Doll identified the victim as Sergi Zaloukaev, 28, of Arlington, Va., and his companion as Natalia Slobonskaya, 23, of Vienna, Va., both Russian nationals.

Slobonskaya was alert and stable but remained in critical condition Tuesday, said Sandra Miller, spokeswoman for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia. She was on a ventilator to assist her breathing, said Dr. Jeffrey Riblet, a trauma surgeon at the hospital.

Residents and workers along the popular stretch of beach were stunned.

``My son fishes and surfs these waters all the time,'' said Carlene Beckham, an employee of the Avon Fishing Pier. ``But after seeing what happened today he said he's not so sure anymore.''

Sharks had been reported in the area in recent days but not at the time of Monday's attacks. ``No one saw any animals in the water. They saw people in distress but nothing in the water,'' Doll said.

Officials were uncertain how far out the couple were swimming when attacked. Bystanders had already dragged them to shore and were administering first aid when rescue workers arrived, said Skeeter Sawyer, director of emergency medical services for Dare County.

The man was still talking when he reached the shore, said witness Gary Harkin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio. He said he tried to put a tourniquet on the man's leg with his long-sleeve T-shirt, while his friend, Carolyn Richards, administered CPR.

``I did have a pulse on him twice, but I lost him,'' Richards said.

The victim was already in full cardiac arrest when medics arrived, Sawyer said.

He said Slobonskaya's left foot had been bitten off and Zaloukaev had lost his right foot. Both also had severe bites on their buttocks, thighs and lower legs.

Slobonskaya underwent surgery at Sentara and was in the trauma intensive care unit Tuesday morning.

``I think, barring any unforeseen complications such as infection, we'll be able to get her on the road to recovery,'' said Dr. Jeffrey Riblet, a trauma surgeon.

It was believed to be the first attack on the North Carolina coast this year. The last reported fatal shark attack was in 1957, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla.

In Virginia on Saturday, a shark attacked 10-year-old David Peltier of Richmond, and released him only after the boy's father hit the shark on the head. David died hours later after losing large amounts of blood from a severed artery.

In early July, 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast's right arm was ripped off by a 6 1/2-foot-long bull shark off Florida's Gulf Coast. His arm was reattached after a daring rescue by his uncle, and he remains in a light coma.