LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – There is absolutely no way you could encounter a shark in Louisville.
Not even in an aquarium, a shark is a rare sight in the city. However, one Louisville boy had an up-close-and-personal incident with a shark while he was on vacation.
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Johnny Simatacolos, 10, was with his family in Hilton Head, South Carolina when he was bitten. Johnny's mother, Christine Simatacolos, describes him as a good swimmer.
After a good session of riding the waves, Johnny said he started to leave the water. That's when he felt a strange sensation on his foot. He said he thought he stepped on something.
"It bit me," Johnny said. "I could not tell if it was a crab or not but then I came over to mom and it started to bleed."
Johnny's parents cleaned and dressed his foot. They treated it as just any other wound, thinking Johnny either stepped on something or scraped it. They ended up coming back home to Louisville.
It wasn't until a family friend pointed out that Johnny's wound looked like a shark bite that they gave it a second look. After searching and making comparisons with images from Google, Johnny's father realized it might actually be a shark bite.
"In Hilton Head, there's not an obligation to report shark bites but you just send it to the International Shark Attack File," Jim Simatacolos said. "So we did that, sent a full report and they said 'yes, you have a shark bite.'"
Despite numerous news headlines about shark bites and attacks, they are relatively rare. In 2016, the United States had 81 recorded shark attacks, two of which occurred in South Carolina. In Beaufort County, South Carolina where Hilton Head is located, they've only ever had 17 shark attacks since 1837, according to the University of Florida's Natural Museum.
It was a rare brush encounter for Johnny.
"He had the perfect shark bite," Jim Simatacolos said. "Little damage and bragging rights for the rest of his life."
"Rumors are starting to spread around at football practice," Johnny added. "Yesterday Hunt asked, 'John, you got bit by a shark?' and I said 'yes.'"
It was a trip to remember for the Simatacolos family.