By KIMBERLY KOLLINER, KMPH
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (CIRCA via KMPH) — According to National Geographic, there are 19 shark attacks per year in the United States and one fatality every two years. A college student in California feels lucky to not be a statistic.
After being bitten multiple times by a great white shark Tuesday morning, surfer Nick Wapner was able to kick the fish off and ride back to shore for help.
Wapner, 19 and a second-year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, went surfing before class at Montaña de Oro State Park.
“I figured it’s the first week of school, not a lot going on, might as well get in the water — start the week off right,” Wapner said.
Despite his 15 years of experience on the water, he says nothing could have prepared him for what happened.
Just out of nowhere, with no warning, nothing, all of a sudden, just my feet go straight up in the air, and, all of a sudden, I feel all this pressure on my back, my legs and stuff. I just feel this clamping down sensation on my legs," Wapner said.
But he says despite this, he considers himself lucky.
“Had it gone a little higher up or even got inside my thigh, potentially it could have nicked an artery or something, and I probably would have been dead before I hit the beach," Wapner said.
He says he was able to kick the shark off, a wave came in just in time, and then the shark swam away. He rode back to shore, and friends took him to the hospital.
Wapner received 50 stitches for his leg wounds and is expected to recover in a few weeks. That's when he says he'll get back on his board.
“I live by the water, I work on the beach, there’s no way I’m not getting back in the water,” Wapner said.