Friday, October 28, 2011
Curse of the Sharkboy
In the summer of 2011, on Thursday, July 7th, a boy Nicholas Vossler, was attacked by a shark off the coast of Texas, at Matagorda Island just outside of Port O’Connor. While It’s apparent that many folks in Texas have heard the story about the boy getting attacked by a shark (I myself have overheard conversations on the topic on 2 separate occasions), most folks haven’t heard the stories surrounding this attack or the ensuing curse.
The first little known fact is that just days before he was attacked by this shark, Nicholas Vossler had witnessed a fatal plane crash in the bay while he was out for a fishing trip with his family.
"First at the scene, they tried to help, but were unsuccessful in finding anyone from the crash."
"Watching the plane accident was hard on my son, trying to get over what he had seen, and then this (shark attack) happened," he (his father) said.
If you haven’t heard the story of the shark attack, here is a link to the first story found in the Victoria Advocate from July 8, 2011.
Here are some highlights from a second article that I read a few days after the attack also from the Victoria Advocate online...
On Thursday, 12-year-old Nicholas Vossler was enjoying a day at Sunday Beach on Matagorda Island with his family when a bull shark attacked and bit his foot.
Luckily, (yes luckily :)) his long time friend, Mark Constien, of Fort Worth, was nearby and grabbed Nicholas. "He saw what was going on and pulled him away from the shark," said Vossler (the boy’s father). Vossler then saw his son's foot, bone exposed and skin hanging from his foot.
"All I could do was take the flap of skin and place it back in place," he said.
Mark Constien and his son Kevin Constien carried Nicholas as Vossler placed pressure on his foot to stop the bleeding. Once they reached The Fishing Center...(this is an error…it should read…Once they reached the bay side of the island…I know , because I was there), the father (it was really the Mother) yelled out asking for the fastest boat available.
Capt. David White, of Victoria, saw them carrying Nicholas and helped transport the boy to Port O'Connor from the beach. Port O'Connor EMS volunteers and Calhoun County EMS then responded to the scene."
The second little known fact, and what the newspapers, and therefore most folks don’t know, is that my family was there, and it was NOT our boat that had helped transport the boy, despite being the boat NEAREST the family of the boy.
Here’s our side of the story. Or...where the "Curse of the Sharkboy" begins....
On Thursday, July 7th, 2011, the Howell family consisting of: Richie Howell - father, and Rock and Roll Genius (and ironically the most stable of the bunch), Ace Howell - 3 year old boy wild child, Adaline Howell - 7 year old girl angel child with cerebral palsy and dependent for all mobility, Emily Howell - 41 year old mother, currently battling breast cancer and managing active radiation burns, and Jenn S. - Adaline’s caregiver and Howell friend, who’s mother had recently fought and beat breast cancer, and who’s daughter was experiencing medical conditions of her own…. head out with a late start (very difficult to get this family to mobilize, to say the least) to enjoy an afternoon at Sunday Beach, Matagorda Island.
We pull up to the bay side of the Island at Sunday Beach to park the boat with Richie holding Adaline in his lap so that she can drive the boat, as is customary. Upon arrival, there were only 3, maybe 4 boats there, which was unusual considering the recent holiday, but, then again, it was only Thursday. We park the boat. Richie hands Adaline off to me in order to secure the anchor on the beach. We then just sit in place for a few moments, as we often do in order to contemplate what must happen for us to mobilize this crew further. We contemplate whether to stay on the bay side or to make the hike over to the ocean side of the island. We are just sitting there when a woman comes up to us frantically asking if we have any vinegar for jellyfish stings. We say "no, we don’t". The scene seemed a bit odd to me, but who am I to talk. The Howell clan plays and swims on the bay side for a while and then we decide to go ahead and make the less than 1/2 mile trek over the sand, over to the ocean side. Ace hiking with one broken flip flop, me with my radiation burn, Adaline in rear tow in the stroller behind Richie, and Jenn there to take care of all of us while carrying her own stressors from home, and beach necessities. We make it to the ocean. We swim in the big waves (only meters away from where the boy will be attacked moments later) and we have a very nice time. There are very few people on the ocean side, as well. We decide to make the trek back over to the boat.
We get back on the boat and change the children’s clothes, diapers, etcetera….and sit... and rest…pausing before our next move, as is customary.
As we are sitting and pausing in the very same manner that we had been prior to making the hike to the ocean side, the very same lady who had come from the boat parked just on our right, only hours earlier asking for the vinegar, is now, running toward us yelling….I need a fast boat! I need a fast boat! My son has been bit! My son has been BIT!! I, being much more well versed in chronic conditions than emergency situations, was slightly underimpressed by the scene the woman was making. I could not see any boy with any injuries. She did not yell what he had been bitten by. I’m thinking to myself, I need more information. I'm thinking it’s probably a jellyfish again, and I am hesitant to get myself into any kind of motion. But where is this boy who’s been bitten? We continue to just sit in place... contemplating, as we do. AND THEN….we kind of giggled and began to make light of the situation. I have to say it was not Richie, though. He got up and went out to stand at the bow of the boat to see if he could be of any assistance. As he did, however, the woman who was running and screaming for the fastest boat, slowed down as she came up to our boat. Then, when she saw our crew more clearly she just sped back up, and ran right past us to the next boat over. I couldn't help it, this was just so funny to me. It was like, even if we did have a nice boat, and a good solid motor…it was OBVIOUS that WE were NOT the FAST BOAT that this mother was looking for. Finally, we saw the boy being carried over the sand toward us by 2 men and we could see blood on his leg. We had to admit that it looked more like a SHARK bite than a jellyfish sting. Even then, we continued making a bit of fun of how the woman passed us right up. I think she, as a mother, could just sense that we were not your support team for emergency situations. We started laughing about how maybe they should call us later if the boy can’t walk, or if any any other chronic physical or emotional conditions develop, and then we could possibly help rehab him back to normal gait, or something. We joked about how, if they had chosen to come onto our boat, we would have had to explain that it might take us a little longer because our disabled child has to drive the boat, and really only her left arm works, so the boat vears to the right a lot, etc.
Since that day, I have learned my lesson. I am very sorry Sharkboy. Please forgive me. I should not have made light of your situation. You will be glad to know….although I’m sure that you already do… the very next day, on our way back from that very same beach…our boat stalled out 3 times. We just barely made it back to the dock. Mother's intuition? or Curse of the Sharkboy?!?