OAK ISLAND, N.C. — A 13-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy each lost an arm Sunday in separate shark attacks at the same North Carolina beach.
Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace told CNN that the female swimmer was attacked first, around 4:15 p.m. Less than 90 minutes later, as responders were still tending to her, the boy was then attacked.
Both victims were airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington. Both arrived in critical condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Martha Harlan.
Harlan said they’ve each had an arm amputated; his below the shoulder, hers at the elbow. The female also sustained serious tissue damage to her leg, according to Harlan.
Both patients — whose names are not being released — have since been upgraded to fair condition.
Wallace told CNN that shark attacks are so rare at Oak Island — a southerly facing beach town on the state’s southern most coast — that she couldn’t remember one occurring before Sunday.
Witness Jason Hunter told CNN affiliate WWAY that the shark in the attack on the boy was seven or eight feet long. And although the mayor said they are not certain, “common sense would tell you it was the same shark,” she said.
Both incidents occurred at high tide in the vicinity of Ocean Crest Pier, a popular destination among beach goers. “At the pier this time of year, I’m sure the beach was packed,” said Wallace.
The pier is also a popular spot to fish from, meaning there was likely bait in the water that would could have attracted sharks.
Fire Chief Chris Anselmo told CNN that beaches will remain open Monday. The sheriff’s office will have helicopters monitoring the coastline.
Oak Island is home to about 7,000 residents. But the population swells to about 25,000 during the summer with beach visitors, Anselmo said.