Surfer improving after surgery for shark wounds

The Associated Press
Monday June 03, 2002

STINSON BEACH – The surfer who was attacked by a shark at Stinson Beach was recovering over the weekend and talking about the toothy beast that nearly took him down for good. 

Speaking from his hospital bed Saturday, Lee Fontan, 24, of Bolinas, said he’s just glad to be alive. He spent much of the weekend watching World Cup soccer games on television and reflecting on the attack. 

“I saw the jaws of death ... right in front of my face,” he said. “I can’t believe he didn’t bite my hand off.” 

Fontan was in critical condition following the attack, but that was upgraded to fair on Sunday. He received 100 stitches during a one-and-a-half hour operation on his leg and shoulder. 

Fontan was attacked Friday about 300 feet off Stinson Beach, 20 miles northwest of San Francisco. He was plucked from his surfboard by a shark that witnesses said was about 15 feet long. 

Fontan told the San Francisco Chronicle that he never saw the shark coming until it was too late. 

“It grabbed me ... just like a freshwater bass will grab a frog,” Fontan said. Witnesses said the shark lifted Fontan high out of the water in its jaws. 

He plans to resume surfing once he fully recovers. 

Another shark attack occurred Friday when a shark bit the foot of a teen-ager swimming about 200 feet off Florida’s St. George Island, police said. 

The 16-year-old boy underwent three hours of surgery after attack and was recovering well, said Jay Abbott, chief of St. George Island Fire and Rescue. 

The boy was vacationing on the island with his family. He was released from a Panama City hospital Saturday, but his name was not released.