Hunting Accident File > Safe Fishing?: > 2005

Boy's leg amputated after Florida shark attack

"Craig Adam Hutto was fishing Monday when a shark attacked him, authorities said." 

Doctor: 'His prognosis is excellent in the long term'

PANAMA CITY, Florida (CNN) -- A 16-year-old Tennessee boy was in critical but stable condition Tuesday a day after he was attacked by a shark in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing doctors to amputate his right leg.

Craig Adam Hutto, of Lebanon, Tennessee, was fishing with his brother on a sandbar about 60 yards off Cape San Blas when he was bitten about 11:30 a.m. Monday, said Gulf County government spokeswoman Paula Pickett.

"We went to the operating room with the idea that we would do anything we could to salvage the limb," said Dr. Glenn Summers of Bay Medical Center in Panama City. "However, it became apparent pretty early on there were not enough structures there to reconstruct in order to have viable limb, and the decision was made at that point to amputate."

Summers said Hutton has "done well since the surgery."

"Barring anything unforeseen, which is the great mystery in this business, his prognosis is excellent in the long term," he said.

A second surgery later Tuesday morning would be a "second look" at the effects of the attack, Summers said.

Summers said Hutto is weeks away from being released from the hospital and months away from rehabilitation. Hutto could be transferred to a facility closer to his Tennessee home, the doctor said.

"He's still at extreme risk for infection, but his prognosis is excellent because he is young and healthy," he said.

The attack on Hutto was the second along the Florida Panhandle in three days. On Saturday, a 6-foot bull shark attacked and killed 14-year-old Jaime Daigle of Gonzales, Louisiana, about 95 miles northwest of Cape San Blas at Miramar Beach.

Autopsy results indicated the size and species of that shark, officials said Monday.

Summers credited Hutto's brother and two vacationing medical personnel with saving the boy's life.

Hutto and his brother were fishing in waist-deep surf off the Gulf of Mexico side of Cape San Blas, a narrow spit of land about 40 miles southeast of Panama City. Gulf County Sheriff Dalton Upchurch said the boy was reeling in a fish when he was attacked.

Witnesses saw the boys struggling in the water, but initially thought they were playing.

"We realized after seeing a spray of red in the water we were not dealing with any kind of prank," Kandy Peterson said.

His brother pulled Hutto from the water, and the two vacationers -- one a doctor -- administered first aid, Upchurch said. Hutto was taken to a nearby hospital and then flown to Panama City by helicopter, he said.

Summers said Hutto was in shock and had lost a tremendous amount of blood when he arrived at Bay Medical, requiring "a lot of resuscitation at that time."

"The work that was done in the field was where the true heroism came into play," Summers said. "The main thing that stood out in my mind was the hero in the field that really saved his life."

Deaths from unprovoked shark attacks are rare, according to statistics compiled by the International Shark Attack File.

Seven people were killed in shark attacks worldwide in 2004, including two in the United States. California and Hawaii each recorded one shark attack death last year.

There were 12 shark attacks on Florida beaches in 2004, down sharply from 30 in 2003. Experts credit the busy hurricane season in 2004 for the lower numbers.

CNN's Mike Phelan contributed to this report.

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