Mother says it’s a miracle her son survived shark attack

Photo: Rady Children’s Hospital

Photo: Rady Children’s Hospital

“We got very, very lucky and we know it”

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press

The mother of a 13-year-old boy who suffered a large shark bite while lobster fishing in California said Monday that it’s a miracle her son survived.

Keane Webre-Hayes ate a cup of noodles and a doughnut and is talking and alert, said his mother, Ellie Hayes. He is eager to resume playing baseball and get back in the ocean.

Someone brought a mask and snorkel to him at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and he said he wasn’t afraid of the water.

“He said, ‘Mom, the chances are so much more slim on the second bite,” she said to laughter of reporters who heard her speak publicly about Saturday’s attack for the first time.

Hayes said she was standing on a cliff in the parking lot in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas when she heard the commotion, though she didn’t see the shark.

Her son was with a friend diving in about 9 feet (2.7 meters) of water about 150 yards (137 meters) offshore of the San Diego suburb of Encinitas when he was attacked. Witnesses estimated the shark was about 11 feet (3 meters) long, but the type was not known.

A trio of rescuers pulled the badly-bleeding boy to a kayak and applied pressure. He was airlifted to the hospital.


“We got very, very lucky, and we know it, and we are very thankful,” Ellie Hayes said alongside her husband and Keane’s stepfather, her voice choking as she spoke of how much she loved her son.

Dr. Tim Fairbanks, chief of pediatric surgery at Rady’s, said Webre-Hayes remained in serious condition from what he described as a very large and very deep bite that reached the chest wall. It tore his left upper back, shoulder, torso, face and ear but did not damage his vascular system.

“Keane wants you to know he has all his limbs, and he’s going to be going home fully intact,” Fairbanks said. “We’re thrilled to be where we are right now. But we still need to get him across the finish line and get him all the way better.”

Hayes was reluctant to speak in detail about the incident but said her son was insistent about wanting to go lobster diving.

“He had said, ‘Mom, I’m going to make you a lobster dinner tonight,’ so he owes me one,” she said.

Hayes said the one word she would choose to describe her son is nice, but she also used brave, strong and athletic.

“He’s a warrior,” she said. “I didn’t know he was that good of a swimmer.”

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