Surfer talks about surviving shark attack

December 22, 2011 8:02:14 PM PST
A 27-year-old Monterey surfer who barely survived a shark attack in October got a big surprise from his surfing buddies Thursday -- a new board and help with his medical bills.

Eric Tarantino was attacked by a shark in October while surfing at Marina State Beach. Doctors say a bite to the neck came within a whisker of rupturing his carotid artery. That could have killed him. Tarantino still has visible wounds on three sides of his arms, on a finger, and on the neck.

He shared his near-death ordeal for the very first time.

"It hit me from underneath on the side, and then when I came to, I was completely under water, and my arm was in its mouth, and it was kind of swimming the deeper sea, and it's hard for me to think it actually latched onto my arm; I think it took a proper bite, my arm would be gone," Tarantino said.

The shark also took a huge bite out of his surfboard, which may have shielded him from even more severe injuries.

Tarantino's friends presented him with a brand new, custom-made replacement -- identical to his old one -- and a new wetsuit.

David Vernor of Vernor Surfboards says the board top-of-the-line, made possible by contributions by him and by surfers from around the world, using social media.

"People really want to help; i's something that doesn't happen every day, and it can be tragic, luckily with Eric, it was not, and we just want to see Eric get back in the water, and we want help him out as much as we can," Vernor Surfboards spokesperson Holly Hamilton said.

Others attribute the response to something else.

"He took one for the team," Paradise Fiberglass spokesperson Mark Brown said.

Tarantino didn't know any of these people until now, but they've all rallied behind him. The surfing community is like that.

"Any time you get bit like that and live, it's got to be lucky," Tarantino said.

After the harrowing experience that Tarantino has been through, one wonders will he ever go back into the water. He says yes he will as soon as the surf conditions are right.


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