Jan Wallhauser was vacationing with her family June 21 when she and her three daughters decided to enjoy the water off South Forest Beach.
Mrs. Wallhauser was holding onto a pool noodle as three of her daughters, Cassie, Heather and Olivia, rode the large waves on boogie boards.
The family group, from Dubois County, Indiana, stood 3- to 4-feet apart in shoulder-deep murky water when a wave rose and lifted 16-year old Olivia’s feet off the bottom.
“Then Olivia started to scream,” Mrs. Wallhauser said. Apparently, when Olivia kicked the shark in the ribs, it grabbed her right foot.
“Her sisters and I helped pull her back to shore,” Wallhauser, who is a nurse, said. Once back on shore, she assessed the damage. While there was a lot of blood, she was relieved to see her daughter had all of her toes. The oldest daughter, Andrea, called their father to grab their vehicle, so they could transport Olivia to the hospital.
The bite was not life-threatening, and Olivia has made a rapid recovery.
“She was on crutches for about a week and then went back to work,” Mrs. Wallhauser said that Olivia, who plays saxaphone, is now back practicing with the Forest Park Marching Band in preparation for the upcoming season.
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“Olivia is doing great emotionally,” Mrs. Wallhauser said. She plans on getting back in the ocean.
“We vacation every summer. I asked the family if they want to do a mountain vacation instead of a beach vacation for 2018, and it was an astounding NO!” she added.
Olivia still has a few indentions on the top of her foot from the shark bite, but her father may have a plan to cover them.
“Her dad, who isn’t much for tattoos, said she should get a shark tattoo on her right foot,” Mrs. Wallhauser said. “Olivia just smiles! I plan to get her a T-shirt that says ‘I survived a Shark Attack.’”
There have been a total of 58* shark attack bites in 2017, 5 of which were fatal*; 27 were reported in the US, with 19 occurring in Florida** and one in Hawaii. Nine occurred in Australia, one of which was fatal, and one with no injury. Three bites are unconfirmed worldwide, and not included in the total count.
*Two may be scavenge **One report may have been outside of Florida waters.
All photos supplied