Surfer attacked by shark returns to ocean
22-year-old catches waves 2 months after shark encounter
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A surfer bitten by a shark two months ago at Jacksonville Beach has now returned to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
After spending most of the summer on crutches, with his foot in a boot, Chad Renfro has recovered from the attack and is surfing again.
It was a little nerve-racking for the 22-year-old Barry University basketball player getting back in the water for the first time Wednesday, but he said it was a moment he couldn't wait for.
The scar across Renfro's left ankle is barely visible, as are the gash marks where the shark took chunks out of the side of his foot.
Eighty-two stitches and a full recovery later, Renfro checked the waves, waxed down his surfboard and strapped on his leash.
"The chances of getting bit twice are pretty slim to none, so I'm counting on those chances," he said.
Even with a small swell, the lifelong surfer was antsy to get back in the water. But once he did, he started having flashbacks.
"I laid on my board out there in the water," he said. "That's when it all kind of started coming back."
On May 23, Renfo caught a wave off Jacksonville Beach. He was paddling back out to catch another one when he felt something grab his foot.
Experts believe it was a 4-5-foot lemon or bull shark.
"I wasn't really sure what I was going to walk up on at first just because I didn't know if he was going to be missing a leg, missing an arm, missing anything," said Brooke Molter, Renfro's girlfriend. "So it was definitely traumatic in that sense because I couldn't see him until I got to him."
IMAGES: Surfer healed, returns to water
When Molter did get to him, it was even more traumatic.
"I looked at his foot, and all I remember is the (emergency medical technician) grabbing my arm because I almost passed out looking at his foot," she said.
Renfro's biggest concern at the time was his senior year basketball season at Barry University in Miami. But two months later, he's back on the court and back in the ocean, this time with a battle scar that's not going to hold him back.
"It's just a cool story to tell now," Renfro said.
But what's he going to do if he gets bitten again?
"Then I'll probably quit surfing," he said.
Renfro has a couple weeks left to enjoy the rest of the summer before he has to go back to school. He's expecting a very special visit from National Geographic, which he said is working on a documentary about the science of a shark bite and wants him to be a part of it.
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