Uncle Speaks Out on Shark Rescue

ByABC News via GMA logo
July 9, 2002, 9:26 AM

July 9 -- It has been one year since Jesse Arbogast, then 8, was mauled by a shark, and the uncle who rescued him is still haunted by the attack.

Vance Flosenzier, the uncle, spoke to ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, describing publicly for the first time how he rescued his nephew just over one year ago on an ocean beach near Pensacola, Fla.

He and his wife were getting ready to call their own children and their niece and nephew to the shore for supper.

"We were getting ready to go to supper, and about to gather them out of the water when I heard my son yell 'shark!' " Flosenzier said. "I heard a scream, turned to the water and saw a pool of blood where the three boys were."

Vance and Diana Flosenzier raced toward the shoreline, where the children had been wading in shallow ocean surf.

"When I got there I realized it was Jesse, and the shark had him by the arm," Vance Flosenzier said. "I mean it had Jesse's arm and it was rolling, like you see [sharks] on a video clip, where they are engaged in trying to tear their prey apart. And you know, that's kind of a haunting image to think back on, because I saw that as I was running up to it. You know, right before I seized its tail, that's what I saw."

Holding the Shark

On the day of the attack, Jesse's relatives and bystanders thought fast.

Vance Flosenzier grabbed onto the shark and wrestled the animal barehanded out of the water. Diana Flosenzier and others pulled Jesse to the shore. The boy's arm had been severed and he was bleeding profusely.

On the beach, Diana Flosenzier administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep her nephew alive.

"Probably within a minute or two he stopped breathing altogether," she said. "I realized, 'I know what to do, I've got to breathe for him, there's nothing else to do.' So I laid him down and started doing rescue breathing."

For more than 10 minutes, she and others kept up CPR on Jesse, while Vance Flosenzier struggled to pull the shark away from children who were still in the water.