Beach Safety - LawCall

An eight-year old boy this week was attacked by a shark while on his boogie board at a beach in North Carolina. This is the fourth shark attack in two weeks in the waters off of North Carolina beaches.

Earlier, a young girl lost her arm and her legs were badly injured when she was attacked by a shark in the waters off of Oak Beach. About an hour and a half later, a teenaged boy was attacked, it is believed by the same shark, and lost his left arm. Another teenager suffered cuts and tears to her foot when she was attacked.

One of the questions about the Oak Beach attacks is why local authorities did not give a red-flag warning that there had been a shark attack. Could the 16-year old boy’s attack have been prevented if a warning had been issued? Sadly for him, we will never know.

But maybe even more astonishing is the attitude of local authorities even after four young people have been attacked off of their beaches. Town manager, Larry Bergman, says that the town does not expect to warn visitors about the shark attacks, or to tell visitors to get out of the water.

Does this sound a bit irresponsible to you? Let’s not risk losing tourism dollars – never mind that you may be eaten by a shark!

“It really comes down to a joint decision on public safety officials, including myself,” Bergman said. He said that they may have decided to close the beaches if there was an imminent danger; instead they are increasing patrols.

The town does not have official lifeguards; they instead rely on water-rescue trained firefighters and police to patrol the beaches on four-wheelers. All of which is really not the issue – the issue is why they are not issuing warnings to beach goers, nor are they closing beaches.

Are local authorities required, or should they be required to warn the public of dangers at their beaches? The parents of these young people surely wish that they had known.

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