LOS ANGELES – The semicircular shark bite stretches from Maria Korcsmaros’ shoulder to her pelvis, teeth marks visible in the shredded flesh of her arm and torso.
Surgeons repaired the massive wound whose shape was “very obviously a mouth,” Dr. Phillip Rotter of Orange County Global Medical Center said Tuesday, adding that “you could see individual marks from individual teeth.”
The 52-year-old also suffered fractured ribs, lung lesions and damage to the muscles and skin of her upper arm and abdomen. Though she was expected to survive, it was too early to know whether she will regain full use of her arm.
Korcsmaros was training for a half-triathlon this past weekend in the water off the Southern California city of Newport Beach when she “felt something hit her,” Rotter said.
She was not immediately sure it was a shark, but lifeguards in a boat who saw her struggling about 100 yards offshore found her gushing blood, doctors and fire officials said.
They saw the last part of the attack and knew she didn’t get hit by a boat or watercraft, said Rob Williams, chief lifeguard of the Newport Beach Fire Department’s Marine Operations Division. She was swimming in a wetsuit just outside buoys marking a protected swimming area near a boat route.
Lifeguards pulled her from the water and she was rushed to the emergency room, where she appeared alert and “remarkably calm,” Rotter told reporters at the hospital.
The press conference got interrupted when someone in the audience apparently fainted as doctors described Korcsmaros’ wounds.
Lifeguards and city officials could not confirm a shark bit the mother of three Sunday, with no sightings or witnesses to the attack, but moved to protect beachgoers. They kept thousands of people out of the water over the holiday weekend and searched miles of shoreline for the shark.
Lifeguards and officials in the city of Newport Beach were meeting Tuesday to decide whether to reopen Corona Del Mar State Beach.
The ban on entering the water stretched for several miles from the Balboa Pier to the city limits at Crystal Cove State Beach. While people were welcome on the beachfront and pier, lifeguards asked anybody entering the water to return to shore.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.