A 10-year-old boy on vacation with his family in the Florida Keys was attacked by a shark over the weekend while snorkeling at Looe Key, state wildlife police confirmed Monday.
Jameson Reeder Jr. on Saturday was airlifted by helicopter to a Miami-Dade hospital, where doctors amputated his leg just below the knee “to save his life as it was not operable from the damage the shark had caused,” his uncle Joshua Reeder posted on Facebook.
“They said the shark made the decision for him,” Reeder posted on his Facebook page on Sunday. “But his life was spared. Thank you, Yeshua/Jesus!!”
The family believes an eight-foot bull shark bit the boy’s leg. As he screamed for help, Jameson clung to a pool noodle and his father drove the boat over to rescue him, the post said.
“The helicopter lifted off less than an hour from the time of the incident and had Jameson Jr. and his mom,” Joshua Reeder said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state agency tasked with patrolling the waters, did not release information or details about the shark bite, but did confirm it when contacted by FLKeysNews.com/Miami Herald.
Reports of the attack on the boy circulated among people across the Lower Keys, across several Facebook posts and on a fundraising account set up by a friend of the family on GiveSendGo.com.
The boy’s family couldn’t be immediately reached.
Jason Rafter, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, confirmed the shark attack on Monday but said he would release details only after first talking with the boy’s father.
Recent shark bites in the Keys
Shark attacks are rare, particularly in the Keys, but several recent incidents have raised questions about the population of various shark species in the waters off the island chain. Since April, four people have been bitten by sharks off Monroe County, including one attack in which a woman’s leg was severely injured.
▪ On June 29, a 35-year-old Texas woman was attacked by a shark while in the water with her family on the Gulf side near Sawyer Key in the Lower Keys. The shark left a large wound on her leg.
▪ A man was left with an eight-inch laceration on his lower leg from a shark bite on April 17 while at a popular sandbar in the Upper Keys.
▪ In mid-July, another vacationer was bitten on his pinky finger by a shark while trying to remove a hook from its mouth during a fishing trip with his family. Authorities, however, did not consider this an attack. Brett Reeder, of Parrish in Manatee County, was airlifted to a Miami-Dade hospital for the injury, which happened near Content Keys, a group of mangrove-covered islands north of Big Torch Key in the Lower Keys.
Why sharks attack
People are far more dangerous to sharks than the other way around, according to FWC, which says an increase in people using the water causes more bites.
Florida is home to various species of sharks that range from a few feet to more than 40 feet long and, “none see humans as a food source,” FWC says on its website.
More than 13 species of shark are in nearshore waters, which they use as nurseries.
“Experts believe that most shark attacks are cases of mistaken identity, which explains why nearly all shark attacks that occur in Florida waters are of a bite-and-release nature,” the FWC says.