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    Boy Attacked by Shark Off Va. Beach

The Associated Press Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001; 2:49 a.m. EDT

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. An 8-foot shark attacked a boy who was swimming off the Virginia coast Saturday, letting the boy from its grip only after his father hit the shark on the head, officials said.

David Peltier, 10, was hospitalized in critical condition.

He was bitten on his left leg while swimming 50 yards from shore in about 4 feet of water, said Ed Brazle, division chief for the city's Emergency Medical Services.

David's father, Richard Peltier, was surfing nearby and tried to pry open the shark's mouth, Brazle said. After the shark released the boy, Peltier carried his son to shore, where witnesses and lifeguards administered first aid.

David sustained bites along his leg and inside his left thigh, witnesses said. His leg was not severed. Richard Peltier was treated for an injury to his hand.

He was transferred late Saturday to Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, where a hospital spokeswoman declined to give any updates about his condition.

The boys' two brothers, who also had their surfboards in the water, cried hysterically throughout the ordeal, witnesses said.

The attack occurred off Sandbridge Beach, a remote coastal community just south of Virginia Beach. Peltier lives in Virginia Beach, and his son lives in Richmond.

Brazle said it was the first reported shark attack in the area in the past 30 years, but one of a spate of attacks in recent weeks.

In July, an 8-year-old boy was attacked by a bull shark on Florida's Gulf Coast. Jessie Arbogast's arm was severed and he lost nearly all his blood. The arm was reattached but Jessie remains in a light coma.

Of the 40 shark attacks worldwide this year, 28 were in Florida waters, according to the International Shark Attack File, based at the University of Florida. None of the attacks was fatal.

Last year, there were 79 shark attacks worldwide, 51 in the United States.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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