SHARK bites Panhandle surfer near site of boy's attack

Monday, July 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ On the same day doctors offered good news about the condition of the 8-year-old boy healing after a shark tore off his arm, a surfer some six miles from that attack felt a shark's jaw close on his leg.

The 48-year-old surfer, whose name was not released, was surfing Sunday afternoon off Santa Rosa Island when the shark bit him on the leg, causing puncture wounds, said Lt. Bob Clark of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

He was in good condition at a local hospital. The surfer told witnesses he had noticed small fish and a large shadow below him, but didn't think anything was wrong until he was bitten.

The attack occurred about six miles from where young Jessie Arbogast was attacked earlier this month. On Sunday, doctors treating Jessie said his brain may not have been damaged from blood loss after the attack.

Jessie sometimes appears to understand what's going on around him, according to the medical team that reattached his arm after a 200 pound bull shark attacked him, also taking a large bite out of his thigh.

``We're proceeding with the lovely words of cautious optimism. Everyday, we seem to progress a little bit further,'' said Dr. Ian Rogers, the boy's chief surgeon, in an interview Sunday morning on NBC's ``Today'' show.

Dr. Juliet DeCampos said the boy from Ocean Springs, Miss., appears to be responding to family and doctors after days of being in what was described as a light coma.

On July 6, Jessie was attacked at the Gulf Islands National Seashore as he played in knee-deep water at dusk. The loss of nearly all his blood damaged his organs.

While he was still listed in critical condition Sunday at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, he has squeezed the hand of relatives in response to being asked.

Jessie's favorite candy bar may have brought more progress in communicating. DeCampos said the boy's grandfather told her Jessie ``would do anything for a Snickers bar.''

``So I gave that a shot,'' the doctor said.

``I brought in a Snickers bar and I saw Jessie's eyes were open and so I dangled it before him, and his eyes fixed on that Snickers bar, and sort of followed it around, and he almost seemed to try and form a word like 'Give me that Snickers bar,''' DeCampos said.

``But he didn't actually say that, I'm sorry.''

Meanwhile, an 18-year-old tourist from Cincinnati was bitten on the foot Sunday by a 3-foot shark while riding a boogie board off Amelia Island, about 38 miles north of Jacksonville, officials said.

Tim Flanigan was treated in the emergency room Monday morning at Shands Jacksonville hospital, an official said. His condition was not immediately available, she said.