Shark Attack Victim has Fingers Reattached

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By Prior Beharry

Peter Smith, 64, of Berkhamsted in England, had some of his fingers reattached after he was attacked by a shark while taking his last vacation swim before returning to England on Friday.

This was confirmed by Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Farley Augustine at a press conference late Friday evening.

Smith was vacationing at the Starfish hotel in Plymouth, Tobago, where he went for a swim before taking his flight back to the UK. He was attacked about ten metres from shore and reports indicated one of his hands were severed from his elbow while his left thigh was also bitten and he also had wounds to his stomach. He is currently in the Intensive Care Unit of the Scarborough Hospital.

Augustine said, “So they were scheduled to leave Tobago today (Friday), and of course they cannot leave because of the situation that happened earlier this morning.

“Mr. Smith is stable and he is doing well. He is in ICU. He is sedated, and he is being kept sedated until tomorrow. And that’s because the wounds will have him in significant pain; so that’s perhaps part of pain management.

“I can also tell you that some reattachments were done, of fingers, for example, and hopefully that will save those fingers. 

“We know that the significant wounds on one of his legs that cannot be completely closed. But he will require extensive work. 

“The task at this time for our health professionals is really to stabilise and ensure we can save life and limb as much as possible. 

“And the extensive work that is required will happen, subsequently but we are happy to say that he is stable and is doing well and we expect him to recover from the incident.”

He said he told Mrs Smith, “I emphasise with you on behalf of the island of Tobago and share with her that we will be by their side throughout this ordeal.

“Immediately the THA sought to provide accommodation and meals for the family until such time, as the husband is safe for return to United Kingdom.” 

Augustine said, “Because as I indicated, they were scheduled to leave Tobago today. This was his last swim before departing Tobago to the United Kingdom and it’s regrettable that this happened on his very last day vacationing on island. 

“The family, they completely enjoyed the time (in) Tobago and of course, this will prove to be quite a bit of a challenge for them but we are certainly intent on ensuring that Tobago hospitality will continue throughout this period and that he will remain safe and also that the family will receive all their assistance.”

The chief secretary said he was in touch with the British High Commissioner to Port of Spain Harriet Cross and her staff and they have spoken to British Airways.

He said the High Commission has ensured that when the Smiths were ready to return to the UK, they would do so at no additional cost.

Augustine said the THA has also retracted a bounty of TT$10,000 for anyone who killed the shark that attacked Smith. He said that was done by the public servants and as Chief Secretary he apologised for posting it.

He said beached from Plymouth to Store Bay on the island’s southwestern coast will remain closed on Saturday so that lifeguards and other personnel could be educated and trained in handling situations with sharks.

Augustine welcomed visitors to the island saying that bull sharks usually operate in shallow coastal waters and even in brackish water and have been even been spotted in rivers.

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