TRURO, MASS. (WHDH) - More than a dozen beachgoers sprang into action Wednesday to rescue a swimmer who was attacked by a shark in the water off Cape Cod and airlifted to a Boston hospital with serious injuries, officials said.
Emergency crews responding to Longnook Beach for a report of a shark attack about 4:11 p.m. found a person suffering from puncture wounds to the leg and torso, according to the Truro Harbormaster’s Office.
The victim, 61-year-old William Lytton, of Scarsdale, New York, was standing in the water about 30 yards offshore when he was bitten, according to the Cape Cod National Sea Shore. Truro police say Lytton was south of Longnook Beach within the boundary of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
After a crowd of beachgoers rendered aid to Lytton and rushed him over the dune, Truro EMS took him to a helipad in Wellfleet, where he was flown to Tufts Medical Center. Hospital officials listed his condition as serious Thursday morning.
Thomas Buckett, of Rhode Island, said he and a friend helped pull the man out of the water and onto shore.
“He was on his back about 25 feet from shore. He was yelling, ‘Get me out of the water, get me out of the water … shark, shark,’” Buckett said. “I pulled him out. I went in above my knees and my friend came in and dragged him the rest of the way.”
In a statement, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy CEO Cynthia Wigren stressed that “encounters with white sharks in which people suffer injuries are as terrifying as they are rare.”
“While we still don’t know all of the details of this particular bite, sharks are not known to target people specifically and when they do bite people it’s usually a case of mistaken identity,” the statement read. “Sharks ‘test the waters’ with their teeth, much like we use our hands. It is how they determine if what they encounter is prey or something to avoid.”
The conservancy said it is offering “wishes for a full recovery to the victim of today’s shark bite and convey our sincere sympathy to him and his family” and vowed to remain “committed to making beaches safer by studying shark behavior and sharing what we learn with the public and town officials to help reduce the probability of these kinds of interactions.”
A photo taken at the scene showed about a dozen beachgoers carrying the wounded man up a sand dune before first responders arrived on scene.
Longnook Beach, which is located on the outer Cape and sits on the Atlantic Ocean, will be closed to swimmers through Friday.
There have been dozens of confirmed great white shark sightings off Cape Cod this summer.
The last shark attack on Cape Cod also happened in Truro off Ballston Beach in July 2012.
U.S. National Park Service rangers are investigating the incident.
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