TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
Special Report forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Lisa Medeiros
Survivor: "I Hit Back"
First Attack In Alabama Waters In 25 Years
Two Men Hurt; One Loses An Arm
June 10, 2000
GULF SHORES, Ala. (CBS) One of the men bitten by a shark at one of the Gulf Coast's most popular beaches says he survived by holding the shark's nose and hitting it, as it pushed him toward shore.
The attack early Friday prompted officials to close a 30-mile stretch of land at the height of tourist season.
Chuck Anderson, 44, a high school coach and vice principal, lost his right arm above the elbow. And Richard Watley, a 55-year-old Gulf Shores barber, was bitten on his right hip and right arm. They were among a group training for a triathlon when the shark attacked.
Watley said he survived because he refused to go down without a fight.
"I didn't know he was coming," Watley said Monday on the CBS News Early Show. "He came up beside me, you know, bumped me. Then when I looked down, I saw it was a shark. He was a big one."
The Orange Beach barber said he hit back.
"I would always be sure I had the shark by his nose to keep him from tearing me up because those teeth, they were just like machines coming after you," he said. "So I was keeping him away by holding his nose when he would charge me. Then every chance I would get is when I would hit him. And anyway, finally it worked out because each charge he would be pushing me in-shore instead."
Watley said he and the shark chased each other in to shore.
"Whenever the shark would break away, he would make his turn. I guess he would do a circle. I would swim as fast as I could and I'm just assuming it's probably a five to six-second burst I would get," he said. "I would always turn back to see if he was going to charge me again. Each time I would turn back, he was there. I mean, he was there! He was charging each time."
Early Show co-anchor Jane Clayson remarked it was just like the movie Jaws.
"Don't you know I was thinking of that," replied Watley.
Anderson's wife, Betsy Anderson, said her husband initially felt something underneath him.
"He thought it was a log or something," she said. "The next thing he remembered was the shark took his right hand. The only way he's alive is he pulled his arm out of the shark's mouth."
It wasn't immediately known what kind of shark attacked the men.
Clayson asked Watley if he would show his injuries on the television program.
"I would drop my pants but I don't want everyone to holler and scream," he said.
"Save it. This is a family show," replied Clayson.
Watley says he'll be back at Gulf Shores training for the triathlon.
"My buddy Chuck, he'll be back, too," Watley promised. "He'll be swimming with someone's flipper but he'll be back."
Copyright 2000, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.