5 shark attacks in 2 weeks prompt Long Island beach closures

UPDATED 1:18 PM PT – Friday, July 15, 2022

Long Island residents are now urged to use caution at local beaches after five people were attacked by sharks this month. Suffolk County Police said the fifth shark attack in under two weeks occurred Wednesday evening when a 49-year-old Arizona man was bitten on the left wrist and buttocks while standing waist-deep at Seaview Beach.

He was able to walk out of the water and was taken by helicopter to a local hospital for treatment in stable condition. This just 12 hours after 41-year-old attorney Shawn Donnelly was bitten in the calf by a sand tiger shark while surfing at Smith Point Beach.

“It was definitely scary, not going to pretend like it wasn’t,” Donnelly said. “It hit me and knocked me off my board. I saw the fin and I saw the shark.”

He was able to punch the shark and ride a wave into shore.

“He was knocked off his board and then he saw this shark coming back around towards him,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stated. “At that moment he was very fortunate that a wave came in and helped push him towards the shore.”

The incident comes after lifeguard John Mullins was attacked on July 7 during a training exercise at a beach less than a mile away from Smith Point. He was treading water around 200 yards from shore when a small shark approached and nipped his ankle. Mullins was able to make it to shore with only minor injuries.

Less than a week before another lifeguard was bitten in the chest and hand at the same beach, but escaped after thrashing with the creature near to shore. He returned to work Thursday and said that he’s lucky his injuries weren’t any worse.

“I’m just grateful my injuries were minor in comparison to other instances,” voiced lifeguard Zach Gallo. “I think I can pass on some knowledge to fellow lifeguards and younger guards coming up.”

The first recent shark encounter occurred three days before this when a 37-year-old swimmer was bitten on his right foot near Jones Beach. Shark deterring efforts, including the deployment of spotter drones and lifeguards on wave runners have been initiated. Authorities have warned beachgoers to only go to protected beaches with lifeguards and avoid going into the water without a partner.

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