Florida beachgoer uses surfboard leash to stop 12-year-old shark bite victim from bleeding

Boy recovering from surgery at Arnold Palmer Hospital

Florida beachgoer used surf board leash to stop 12-year-old shark bite victim from bleeding

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – In a children’s hospital room, 12-year-old Jai Villamil is hanging in there after he was bit by a shark.

The Cocoa Beach surfer was recovering Tuesday and Wednesday from a six-hour surgery.

Villamil’s family said he has a lot of nerve damage and the doctors believe the shark Monday afternoon bit the back of his leg more than once when Villamil stepped off his board.

[TRENDING: 7 must-haves at Portillo’s | Sharks bite boy, 12, man, 71, in Volusia | When’s the next rocket launch from Florida?]

The family credits surfer Charley Hajek with helping save the boy’s life.

Hajek, who is the director of Gnarly Charley’s Surf Series, was back on New Smyrna Beach Wednesday retelling the frightening moments.

“It kind of cut his calf really bad and it left a pretty nice size hole in his leg,” Hajek said. “So I was out there, I brought him in. He was bleeding really, really bad so we stopped the bleeding with a surfboard leash.”

A close friend of the family said Wednesday that Villamil is staying positive.

An online fundraiser has collected more than $20,000 to put toward his recovery.

On Monday, Volusia County Beach Safety said a 71-year-old boogie boarder was also bit by a shark in New Smyrna Beach.

A report said Florida is still the shark bite capital of the country and Volusia County led the state with eight bites last year.

“If you’re out surfing, stay on your surfboard. Don’t walk around the sandbars out there,” Hajek said. “These sharks are down there feeding off all the fish on the bottom of the ocean.”

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.