While swimming off the coast of Key West last weekend, a man was attacked by what officials are calling “a large shark.”
The man, 34-year-old Nicolae Cioban, was swimming near the Outer Mole of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park last Sunday afternoon when he was bitten, per reports. The man suffered severe lacerations along his entire leg, including his thigh, knee, and calf.
Miraculously, however, Cioban, a Romanian tourist, was able to walk to an ambulance. EMTs then transported him to a nearby hospital, where he received treatment for his non-life-threatening wounds. Following the attack, park rangers “closely monitored the water, but did not observe any sharks,” per Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Despite their inability to spot the aggressive shark, Key West rangers flew purple flags throughout the day, alerting visitors to “exercise caution in and around the water”. As of Friday, the flags were still being flown.
“Visitors to coastal parks are reminded to pay close attention to the colored flags posted at welcome stations and on the beaches,” said DEP spokeswoman Alexandra Kuchta. “Colored flags indicate swimming conditions at the beach.”
Young Boy Falls Victim to Shark Attack in Key West
For many, a shark attack ranks among the top worst-case scenarios imaginable. Thankfully, however, they remain exceedingly rare. Despite the recent string of shark attacks in Key West, Florida’s southernmost island has seen only 18 unprovoked shark attacks in recorded history. Additionally, zero of those attacks were fatal.
The Keys are home to several species of shark, all of which are generally harmless. The statistics do little, however, to quell the fear inspired by stories such as 10-year-old Jameson Reeder Jr’s.
In the summer of 2022, Jameson was snorkeling off the Florida Keys when a shark bit down on his leg. The boy, who was on vacation with his parents and siblings, “took a crushing blow,” according to his uncle, who described the harrowing event in a subsequent Facebook post.
The official identity of the shark remains unknown. The Reeder family, however, believes it was a large bull shark. With his leg bleeding profusely, Jameson managed to remain on his float until his family pulled him to shore. While applying a tourniquet to the boy’s leg, the family called for help.
Rescue crews airlifted Jameson to a Miami hospital, where he, unfortunately, lost his lower leg. Due to the severity of his injuries, doctors had no choice but to amputate below the knee. After a series of surgeries, the boy was finally released from the hospital in “minimal pain,” per his uncle.
“Jameson Jr. has done extremely well with his road to recovery,” Reeder said. “Since the shark attack happened, we have seen him continue to overcome new challenges each day.”