Jessie Arbogast was the 8-year old boy from Ocean Springs, MI
whose right arm was ripped off by a bull shark
in the Florida Panhandle
on July 6, 2001
. Jessie and his aunt and uncle, Diana and Vance Flosenzier of Mobile, AL
, were on Langdon Beach
in the Gulf Islands National Seashore
, a part of the Florida
coast near Pensacola
Jessie was only in knee-deep water when he was attacked, but the bull shark is a vicious species known to frequent shallow water. The shark bit his right arm off and a chunk of his right thigh as well. His uncle, a triathlete
, wrestled the shark to shore. A park ranger
shot the shark several times in the head and pried its jaws open with a police baton
while a volunteer firefighter
retrieved Jessie's arm.
Jessie fell into a coma
. Three surgeons spent twelve hours reattaching
his right arm. Brain damage
was a serious concern for a time, but he avoided fatal brain swelling which is often associated with such severe blood loss
. He has also had follow-up surgery for kidney dialysis
(his internal organs were also damaged as a result of the attack) and for temporary skin graft
s of pig
skin on his leg.
The bull shark, weighing 200-250 pounds, was underweight for a shark of that species, leading scientists to speculate that the shark was starving or at least very hungry, perhaps prompting the attack. Bull sharks in that area feed on sea turtle
s, which were nesting
in the vicinity at the time of the attack.
Circulating on the internet
is a letter, written by some anonymous
weasel fuck, which accuses Flosenzier of fishing for sharks that day and thus attracting the bull shark which attacked Jessie. There is, of course, no truth in that accusation.
Donations can be sent to: The Jessie Arbogast Medical Fund, account number 012428229, c/o Hancock Bank, P.O. Drawer 609, Ocean Springs, Miss. 39566.