What to Know
- The boy was diving for lobsters about 115 feet from shore when he was attacked.
- Nearby kayakers, an off-duty police officer, an off-duty lifeguard and their friend, rushed to the boy's aid and quickly got him to shore.
- Experts say the boy's wounds are consistent with the bite of a Great White Shark.
Keane Webre-Hayes, the 13-year-old Encinitas boy who survived an attack from what is believed to be a Great White Shark last weekend at Beacon's Beach, has been released from Rady Children's Hospital.
A spokesperson for the hospital told NBC 7 Thursday that Keane was no longer there. In the days after the attack, doctors and his family said that he had a long road to recovery in front of him.
Keane was lobster fishing with a friend when he was bitten by the shark in the ear, shoulder and back, around 6:55 a.m. on Saturday.
His mother Ellie Hayes was watching her son from a parking lot on the bluffs above the beach and could hear her son's screams.
Witnesses described hearing calls for help from Keane before seeing a pool of blood in the water.
"I paddled to him," witness Chad Hammel said. "And there was a big wake of blood behind him. His entire back was open. The shark hit him in the clavicle. The shark’s top teeth got him in his cheek."
Ellie says Keane was able to swim to a nearby kayak and three men on board, among them an off-duty police officer and lifeguard, pulled him out of the water and got him to the beach. He was then life-flighted to Rady Children's Hospital in Linda Vista.
“You or I, we probably would have swam to the shore because we know the shark doesn’t go ashore, but he had his wits about him," Ellie said at a news conference from the hospital Monday afternoon. "He knew that there were men in a kayak away from shore and that’s amazing to me. And I will never question his wits again. Ever."
Keane was listed in serious condition in Rady's Intensive Care Unit as of Monday, according to Chief of Pediatric Surgery Dr. Tim Fairbanks.
Honoring the family's wishes, the only detail about Keane's injuries Fairbanks revealed was it was a "very large shark bite."
"[The bite was] very deep, down to the chest wall through the muscles. It was a very large injury. He was lucky in that no vascular structures were injured in the initial attack," Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks said Keane's condition was improving, and doctors were monitoring several situations. Possible infections and Keane's blood count were among the medical staff's chief concerns.
Ellie said Keane was alert and talking on Monday and had a chance to enjoy a donut and a cup of noodles.
“He’s very brave, he’s very strong, athletic. He’s a warrior," she said of her 8th-grade son.
Ellie did not go into detail about the attack, saying it was Keane's story to share however he sees fit once he recovers.
"I just want to say thank you to all three [kayakers]. Without what they did we would be having a whole different scenario," she said. "Keane has been asking for them. His eyes haven’t welled up until he’s asked for the people who saved his life."
Fairbanks said the men in the kayak and other Good Samaritans who helped apply pressure to Keane's wounds on the beach before paramedics arrived deserve partial credit for saving the boy's life.
More than that, though, Fairbanks said Keane is alive because "He made a decision to survive and got help.”
“Given the choice, he sought help," Fairbanks added. "The help was given to him, they got him to the beach and they started providing care. They applied pressure and the brought him here... He made a decision immediately to take action and save himself.”
Fairbanks said the care provided to Keane immediately after the attack should serve as a reminder for everyone to apply pressure to major injuries.
Both Ellie and Fairbanks said the community's support for Keane has been a big help.
"We can feel the love, we can feel the support," Ellie said. "We are very, very lucky and we’re very blessed. We’re just blessed to have him.”
Fairbanks became choked up at several points during the news conference as he talked about Keane and his family.
“This family and this child are special. He’s just a special person," Fairbanks said. "Fifteen minutes ago as we prepared for this, the family was concerned about the other families in the pediatric intensive care and what they were going through.”
He said he couldn't think of a better kid for the community to rally behind.
Ellie said that right now, prayers and positive thoughts for Keane are needed most.
She said Keane is eager to recover and get back to doing the things he loves, like playing baseball and playing in the ocean.
“He said 'Mom. The chances are so much more slim of a second bite.”
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Saturday cited an Encinitas resident and former lifeguard for flying his drone into an area reserved for a medical response helicopter. Deputies say the pilot had to circle the landing area before picking up Keane.
The water from Ponto Beach in Carlsbad to Swamis in Encinitas was closed for 48 hours and reopened at 7 a.m. Monday.
"At this time there have been no reports from the public or any public safety officers of any shark activity in this area, so we want to make this loud and clear to everybody. And this is very, very unfortunate and very infrequent, this is a significant event for us but at the same time, it's very rare," Encinitas Marine Safety Captain Larry Giles said.
Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab Director Chris Lowe and his team are using new techniques to help Encinitas lifeguards identify what type of shark bit Keane.
"We're working very closely with the Encinitas lifeguards to try and sort out what species was involved, the size of the shark and more about the behaviors so we can better advise the public," Lowe said.
Andrew Nosal, a marine biologist with the University of San Diego, said based on the severity of the wounds and location of the bite it is consistent with that of a Great White Shark.
Nosal added it is extremely rare for anyone in the world to be bitten by a shark, let alone along the coast of California.
"Great white populations are increasing in Southern California and that's because they've been legally protected for the last couple of decades," said Nosal. "That's a good thing for our local ecosystem. At the same time, the human population has also grown here. That means more sharks at the beach but also more people at the beach."
So far, the animal has only been described as 11 feet long.
Lowe's team is taking swabs of Keane's wetsuit to identify DNA from the shark. If the shark is spotted again, the water can also be tested for DNA, Lowe said.
"We hope to have some DNA evidence back in the next week that might help us confirm what kind of species it is," he said.
After the attack, the beach was full of signs saying the area was closed to swimmers and lifeguards were on wave runners actively warning people to stay out of the water. Encinitas Lifeguards said people were stealing the signs and they had to order about $800 worth of replacements.
Despite the closure, surfers were seen in the water at Swami's Beach Sunday morning.
Other agencies helping with the investigation are California State Park Lifeguards, Solana Beach Lifeguards, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, Encinitas and Carlsbad fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard is aware of the incident.
In April 2017, a woman was attacked by a shark in the waters off San Onofre State Beach near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The last time a shark attack has been deadly in San Diego County was in Solana Beach in 2008.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with Keane's medical bills.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story erroneously said Rady Children's Hospital was in La Jolla. It is in Linda Vista.