Mother of Shark Attack Victim Recalls Seeing Half His Calf Missing: 'Blood Everywhere'

Lucas Cruz had been celebrating his 15th birthday near Key Largo in the Florida Keys when his legs were bitten by a shark estimated to weigh 500 pounds.

The mother of the Florida teen attacked on August 7 by what is believed to be a large bull shark has talked about the young man's injuries.

"All of a sudden I hear Lucas scream, 'Shark! Shark!'" Michelle Lopez, mother of Cruz, told 7 News Miami as she described the moment she saw her son had been bitten by a shark. "I saw the back of his calf just totally missing and blood everywhere."

"I kind of felt the push or pull feeling. I thought it was a boat. I thought a boat hit me, but I looked above the water and saw there was no boat," the teenager, who had been diving for lobsters when the attack occurred, told the news outlet. "So, I instantly kind of just—I didn't see my leg yet—I just knew it was a shark."

Cruz shouted for helped and was hauled into a boat containing family and friends.

Aboard the boat, the captain applied tourniquets to Cruz's leg, and he was then was airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center.

"He was near death when he arrived," Dr. Mark McKenney told 7 News Miami. "He was so white, he was as white as the sheets, actually. It was, like, stunning how pale he was."

McKenney added it was likely the quick thinking of the captain and the application of the tourniquet had saved the youngster's life. Even so, the Boston Herald reported Cruz lost around three liters of blood following the attack, about 10 percent of the blood in his body.

Cruz spent the following 11 days at the facility. He was then operated on by Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America medical director Dr. Haaris Mir. Mir told the Herald that the bite was "by far the worst" type of ocean-animal injury he had seen during the eight years the doctor has spent in South Florida.

Mir added that he believes Cruz, who is now in physical therapy after multiple reconstructive surgeries, can recover from the attack. "The best thing is he's young, and he has age on his side," the doctor said.

Cruz had only been in the water for around 15 minutes when he was attacked by what is believed to have been a 500-pound bull shark. The Boston Herald added that the attack, which occurred in water no deeper than 8 feet, was so swift Cruz didn't even see the animal.

Florida Museum says that the most common type of unprovoked shark attack is the "hit and run" attack.

"The victim seldom sees its attacker and the shark does not return after inflicting a single bite or slash wound," the museum says on its website. It adds that in most instances, these attacks are probably cases of mistaken identity that happen because of poor water visibility, breaking surf, and strong currents.

The museum adds: "A feeding shark in this habitat must make quick decisions and rapid movements to capture its traditional food items. It is not surprising that sharks might occasionally misinterpret a human for its normal prey.

"We suspect that, upon biting, the shark quickly realizes that the human is a foreign object, or that it is too large, and immediately releases the victim and does not return."

The institute also points to three species of shark that seem to be prone to attacking humans, the white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark, though it suggests any large shark can present a danger.

Bull Shark
A stock image of a bull shark off the coast of Fiji. The mother of a Florida teen mauled by what is believed to be a 500-pound bull shark has described his injuries. June Jacobsen/Getty