Myrtle Beach Shark Attack Was Watched by Victim's Grandson

A woman who was bitten by a shark on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has recalled the experience with her grandson, who was standing a few feet away.

Karren Sites, from Pittsburgh, was one of two shark attack victims on Myrtle Beach on August 15. Police were unsure if both attacks were done by the same shark, as they occurred half a mile and several hours apart.

"I just felt something I guess bite me, and I looked down and there was a shark on my arm and I was only in waist [deep] water and I kept pushing at it to get it off my arm and then it did," Sites told WPDE-TV.

shark attack myrtle
Stock images of Myrtle Beach, SC (left) and a shark fin (right). A woman who was attacked by a shark on Myrtle Beach and her grandson have shared their experience. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Sites' attack and the other on August 15 have increased South Carolina's total number of shark attacks in 2022 to four. In 2021, there were four shark attacks for the whole year in South Carolina, and one attack in 2020.

A large proportion of shark attacks occur in shallow water, with 39 percent of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide happening to people who are wading or swimming, according to the Florida Museum's Yearly Worldwide Shark Attack Summary. Other attacks targeted surfers and people participating in board sports (51 percent) or divers and snorkelers (4 percent. Unprovoked attacks, like the one on Sites, are incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark's natural habitat, with no human provocation of the shark by fishing or attempted feeding.

Sites' 8-year-old grandson, Brian Sites, was 10 feet away from his grandmother at the time of the attack.

"I couldn't even see the shark coming up, but all I saw was she was-- the shark jumped up and it didn't even bite like all the way, like I saw the movement of its tail like going to the side and then she went, like, she screamed a little bit but like, as soon as she touched it, it just fell into the water," he told WPDE-TV.

His grandmother was taken to the hospital to treat her injuries. She underwent surgery to mend a wound in her arm.

The risk of an unprovoked shark bite is extremely low. South Carolina has recorded 116 unprovoked shark attacks in the past 122 years, according to the website Shark Attack Data, and nine of those attacks proved fatal. The most recent death was in 2005.

The species involved in the Myrtle Beach attacks and the other two attacks off the South Carolina coast in 2022 are not known, but many types of shark can be found in the nearby waters.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, acoustic receivers have detected 12 different shark species in the state's waters, including great whites, sand tiger sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, lemon sharks, blacktip sharks and hammerheads. Tiger sharks made up 45 percent of the large coastal shark species transmitter data.

Despite the low risks, the Florida Museum advises beachgoers to swim with a buddy close to shore. Swimmers should avoid bathing at dawn or dusk, near where people are fishing, or if they have a bleeding open wound, as sharks have a powerful sense of smell.

If approached by a shark, it advises hitting the shark on its nose repeatedly as you try to get out of the water. If the shark bites, scratching its eyes and gill openings with your nails may help, as these are sensitive areas.