It was the gnarliest ride of this Florida surfer’s life.
Don Walsh, 40, was surfing in New Smyrna Beach, on the mid-Atlantic coast of the panhandle state, when he caught air on a wave — only to land smack-dab on top of a 6.5-foot shark.
Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Tamra Malphurs told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that Walsh “landed on the shark in waist-deep water and got bitten” around 11:55 a.m. Tuesday. He was treated at the scene for lacerations on his left hand and calf.
“I never really try to throw an air but I tried to throw one. I didn’t land it; landed on a shark instead and he decided to take a bite out of me,” Walsh told Orlando News 6. “It felt like a freight train hit me and the first thing I could think of was to literally push him away from me and as soon as it happened. I grabbed my board and started to paddle as fast as I could.”
The chiropractor from nearby Mims had taken they day off to go surfing, which he’s been doing casually for 30 years. He was about ready to call it a day at the beach when he decided to go for one last, fateful ride.
Walsh admitted he’s not the most skilled surfer: “I never did see the shark as I was coming down. I did see it after the bite happened.”
Still, he’s not about to give up his hang-10 hobby.
“I’ll be back in the ocean as soon as the wounds close up,” Walsh said. “[But] I’ll definitely be a little more cautious.”
New Smyrna Beach is the shark bite capital of the world, according to the the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), and seen 11 incidents so far this year. They say that anyone who has ever swam in New Smyrna’s waters have likely been within 10 feet of a shark.
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