Six Year Old Becomes Volusia County’s Eleventh Shark Bite Victim Of 2008

As reported by Mark I. Johnson on Daytona Beach News Journal

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Six-year-old Zane Atcha walked out the front door of Bert Fish Medical Center’s emergency department Wednesday afternoon to face a different kind of feeding frenzy.

The Deltona boy and his mom, Jennifer Nelms, were confronted by a wall of television cameras and reporters all wanting to know what it was like being Volusia County’s 11th shark bite victim of 2008.

“This is pretty weird,” Zane said of all the attention, but he added it was “kinda” worth getting bitten to be on television.

A couple of hours earlier, the youngster was walking in about 18 inches of water off the 27th Avenue beach park in New Smyrna Beach with classmates attending a kindergarten graduation party from Casa Montessori School in DeLand, when “something bumped me on the (left) knee.”

“I thought it was a skateboard floating in the water,” he said.

He ran to his mother, sitting on the beach a short distance away.

“I didn’t see any blood at first,” Nelms said. But when she washed the 2-inch gash on the back of her son’s leg, she was soon convinced he had been bitten by a shark.

“We wrapped the wound in a towel and some other parents ran to get the lifeguards,” Nelms said.

An ambulance took the boy to the hospital, where eight stitches were used to close the wound.

“We always joked about this,” Nelms said. “But you never think it is going to happen to us.”

Zane seemed to take it all in stride.

“Maybe it was ’cause he was hungry,” he said when asked why he thought the shark bit him instead of one of his classmates.

Volusia County Beach Patrol spokesman Capt. Scott Petersohn said the only thing that made Zane’s encounter unusual was its location. The 27th Avenue beach ramp is several miles south of where the rest of this year’s bites have been reported, just south of Ponce de Leon Inlet’s south jetty. Three bites occurred in three days there April 26 to 28.

“Same scenario, different location,” he said. “Murky water, close to shore, a small shark and a mistake bite.”

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