With 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast yelling "He's got me, get him off me!" the boy's uncle grabbed an attacking bull shark by the tail and battled the predator in a tug-of-war, a National Park Service report says.
The report provides new details on how Jessie's uncle pulled the shark to shore after the July 6 attack at the Fort Pickens area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Thursday.
The report is partly based on rangers' telephone interviews last week with the boy's uncle and aunt, Vance and Diana Flosenzier, of Mobile, Ala., who have declined to speak to the media, as have his parents, David and Claire Arbogast.
The Ocean Springs, Miss., boy remained in critical condition in a light coma Thursday at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. He was continuing to show slight neurological improvement, said Dr. Rob Patterson, a pediatric critical care physician with Nemours Children's Clinic.
Diana Flosenzier told Ranger Jared Klein that Jessie and one of his two brothers were playing in water that was thigh-deep for an adult. She said the brother, not named in the report, later told her he felt the shark brush by him.
"Vance heard someone yell "Shark!' and a scream," Klein wrote in the report.
The uncle then saw a large pool of blood in the water where the boy and other children were playing.
The report said Jessie's arm was still in the jaws of the 6.5-foot bull shark when the uncle ran into the water.
"Vance grabbed the base of the tail of the shark and tried to pull it away from Jessie," Klein wrote. "Vance pulled a second time and the shark came free."
Jessie fell away from the shark, and an unidentified bystander caught him and carried him to shore, the report said. The boy, who was conscious at first, went into convulsions and stopped breathing, his aunt told Klein.
Clinging to the tail, 38-year-old Vance Flosenzier began stepping backward toward the beach. He beached the shark about 10 feet from Jessie, witnesses said.
Family members and bystanders performed CPR for 20 minutes until the boy was airlifted to Baptist Hospital, where his arm was reattached after 11 hours of surgery.
The boy also suffered a deep wound to his right leg and lost nearly all his blood. He was transferred to Sacred Heart two days after the attack because it is better-equipped to handle pediatric intensive care cases.
A lawyer for Baptist Hospital, meanwhile, confirmed that a complaint has been filed with state Bureau of Emergency Medical Services contending that Jessie should have been taken initially to Sacred Heart instead of Baptist.
The identity of the complainant is confidential and Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke said his hospital did not file it. The Baptist Flight helicopter crew initially notified Sacred Heart that Jessie would be taken there and a trauma team was on alert, said Clay DeStefano, another Sacred Heart spokesman.
Dr. Greg Smith, a Baptist emergency room physician on the helicopter, said he decided that Jessie, who was clinically dead, should go to Baptist because it was closer and every second counted in trying to save his life.
Going to Sacred Heart would have doubled the two-minute flying time from the beach and taken the helicopter directly over Baptist, Smith said.
"It was made extremely quickly and . . . I had no doubts (about) it being the right decision," Smith said. "We simply asked the pilot who was the closest and Baptist was the closest."
MUG,12p2Vance Flosenzier, left, didn't hesitate to grab the shark, pull it off his nephew, Jessie Arbogast, and drag it to the beach to recover the swallowed arm.