Fatal shark attack at Stuart Beach

By Al Pefley- bio | email

STUART, FL (WFLX) - A shark attack near Hutchinson Island claims the life of a Stuart man. The victim is identified as Stephen Schafer, 38, of Stuart.

Authorities say he was kite-surfing near Stuart Beach, about a quarter-mile from shore, when a lifeguard saw him clinging to his board at about 4:15 Wednesday afternoon.

He felt it looked unusual, so he paddled out to investigate and found several sharks circling in the water around the victim.

The lifeguard got Schafer back to the beach, and he was rushed to the hospital, but he did not survive. Schafer had been bitten several times.

"I saw them working on him, and I saw them pulling him out of the water and the people did a great job. They were constantly on him and as they were taking the body up on the stretcher, there were six  guys. He just wasn't moving. It was very difficult, I have to say," said Jim Smith, who lives near Stuart Beach.

One official says the lifeguard deserves a lot of credit. Because he was able to get out there, despite the sharks circling in the water, and bring the victim back to shore, without becoming a victim himself.

"I'm a swimmer, and it really doesn't bother me, but I'll tell you this, I wouldn't go beyond my kneecaps, and I do a lot of swimming. But it's a little frightening," Smith said.