Teen attacked by shark at Surfside Beach talks about recovery, nickname

June 20, 2013 10:00:00 PM PDT
Back in June, a church trip to the beach turned terrifying for a teenager attacked by a shark while swimming at Surfside Beach.

Now, five weeks and five surgeries later, Garrett Sebesta is speaking out about how he survived the shark encounter.

For most of the day, Sebesta is confined to his bed. His dominant hand is stitched and bandaged. His leg is also wrapped and elevated; all the aftermath of a shark attack.

"I have some feeling," he said. "It's real tingly and numb, but I have some feeling."

On June 17, Sebesta was swimming with his church group in waist-deep water off Surfside Beach.

"Just having a good day and the next thing I know, I feel something just clamp down on my leg," he said. "I look down real fast and I see it's a shark, so I immediately reach down and just start trying to gouge his eyes out."

Unphased, the shark kept pulling flesh from his leg.

"So I reached my hand down there and I got it under his teeth and basically picked him up and shoved him off and yelled, 'Shark!' And I just ran as fast as I could to the shore."

With a chunk of his leg missing and losing blood fast, he was in shock as he tried to make it to shore.

"I was running and falling multiple times and then I got to the point where I couldn't run anymore," said Sebasta. "And I started trying to crawl."

He has been hospitalized for five weeks and undergone five surgeries, a muscle graft and can barely walk. Yet a stuffed shark hangs over his bed, a shark tooth graces his neck and the first time he picked up a pencil, he drew a man-eater of the ocean.

He holds no grudges and considers the Surfside attack an accident.

"It's still my favorite animal and it will always be," he said. "I just love sharks. I'm probably going to study sharks."

Initially in shock when she got the call, his mother is now relieved to see him on the mend.

"I asked, 'Does he have all his fingers? and they said yes," said Marina Sebesta. "And it was like a light switch. Once I knew he had all his fingers, I thought we can handle anything else after that."

And to go along with the healing injuries, his family gave him a new nickname to match.

"Shark bait," joked Sebasta.

"Do you think that's going to stick?" we asked.

"Yeah, I think it will," he said.

"And you're OK with that?"

"Yeah," he said.

Since he first tried to gouge the sharks eyes out, he jokes there is a one-eyed shark out there.

Sebesta thanks everyone from the friends that helped him to shore to the medics and doctors that saved his life. And Saturday, August 17, a benefit for Sebesta will be held at Needville Harvest Park beginning at 6pm.

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