You might’ve heard 15-year-old Kelton Beardall’s story by now, but if you haven’t, let me fill you in (otherwise skip to the interview below). While surfing in New Smyrna, the grom was bitten by a shark … twice. We’re guessing he must’ve tasted pretty good, since most sharks usually just bite once. Kelton, who is sponsored by Quiksilver, remains cool-headed about the whole thing, which is pretty awesome considering most of us probably freak out at the simple sight of a shark. All jokes aside, Beardall is on his way to a speedy recovery and was cool enough to recap the incident with Void in this light-hearted interview about the experience.
Can you briefly explain to us the severity of the injuries, how you’re doing after the fact (current status) and when you should be back to 100 percent.
Kelton: The first bite was on my foot and the teeth holes are pretty big. They couldn’t stitch them because they are animal bite punctures, which have a lot of bacteria, so they have to stay open to drain. The second bite was on the back of my leg. The first hospital I went too didn’t think it went through my achilles tendon, so they just stitched it up. Then the second doctor, Dr. Young with Jacksonville Orthopedic Surgeons, saw right away it had bitten all the way through the tendon. He did an MRI to make sure, and it was very obvious. So, I had achilles repair surgery last week. I’m doing pretty good, but I won’t be able to walk on it for awhile. I have my post op appt next Tuesday, and then I’ll find out when I will be 100 percent. They tell everyone six months but I don’t think it will take that long cause I’m a youngin’.
So, you got attacked by a shark, what happened exactly? Can you recap the incident with as much detail as possible?
Kelton: I caught a left that had like a perfect air section and tried to do an air reverse but my board flew out from under my feet in mid-air. So, like right when I hit the water, I got bit. Then, when I like came up, I got bit again … or that’s what it felt like. I caught a wave in like right away on my stomach. It felt like it bit off my foot, so when I got to shore and saw I still had a foot, I was stoked haha. At first, I don’t know why I thought I could walk on it, and I tried to, but I just fell over. Then, I asked some guy that was going out to piggy back me to the truck. He did and then he just left without me even being able to say thanks. If he hadn’t carried me in, it would have been horrible. I would have had to crawl so far haha. Anyway, then I got to the hospital where they took X-rays to see if there were any teeth in the bites, but there weren’t, which I was bummed about … that woulda been a cool souvenir haha. [After that], they cleaned it and stitched it up, and we drove home in the middle of the night from Daytona.
When it happened, what was going through your mind?
Kelton: I was just like dang this sucks haha. I never really freaked out until I got to the hospital.
Let’s say you knew the shark was coming, how would you have handled the situation?
Kelton: I probably wouldn’t have tried to do an air and just surfed by it and gone in.
If you could ask the shark one question, what would it be?
Kelton: Are mermaids real?
Was anyone with you at the time? What was their reaction?
Kelton: My friends Blake and Ben were surfing with me but they didn’t see it happen and I didn’t yell or anything, so they kept surfing. Once they saw me at the truck, then they came in. I think they were pretty freaked out. My sister and her boyfriend were probably the most grossed out haha, but they stayed really calm. My friends stayed with me at the hospital, which made it kinda fun.
After something like this happens, how do you get back in the water without fear?
Kelton: I really don’t know yet. I won’t be surfing for awhile, but I’ll defiantly be a little spooked surfing again at first.
Do you dislike sharks a little bit now?
Kelton: Yeah. I’m so mad it sucks I can’t do anything because of that one shark. But overall, sharks are pretty chill … except that one shark — I hate that one.