Hunter Treschl Talks About His Rescue and Recovery from Shark Bite

June 16, 2015

Hunter Treschl, 16, was bitten by a shark Sunday, June 14, 2015 at Oak Island, N.C. Hunter's left arm was amputated below the shoulder by the shark bite.

Rescuers helped him out of the water and wrapped a tourniquet around his arm on the beach. First responders moved him out of the path of a passing storm, where New Hanover Regional Medical Center's AirLink helicopter could transport him quickly to the hospital. He arrived in critical condition, and Dr. Borden Hooks performed emergency surgery. He has since been stabilized and is in good condition. On Tuesday, two days after losing his arm, Hunter talked about the shark attack, the rescue efforts that saved his life, the care of the medical staff at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and how he is already determined to overcome the amputation of his dominant hand.

What do you remember about that day?

I was with my cousin. We were in about waist-deep water. We were just playing around in the waves, and I felt a hit on my left calf. I thought it felt like a big fish, and I started moving away. And then the shark bit my arm -- off. My cousin pulled me out of the water and got me on the beach.

Tell us about the scene on the beach:

A guy had a belt with him, and he was able to use that as a tourniquet on my arm, to kind of stop the bleeding. I’d like to thank him very much. And then there were other people, I don't know their names, but I'd really like to thank all of them a lot. They were all helping me kind of stay calm until the ambulance got there.

Did you see the shark?

I felt it hit me on the left leg, like a big fish kind of hit you or something, then I felt it one more time, then it hit my arm. That was the first time I saw it, when it was biting up my left arm. Then he got that off eventually. I don't know if he swam away, but I was able to move. With the help of my cousin, I made it up onto the beach.

How have you maintained such a positive attitude?

I've lost my arm obviously, so I have two options: I can try to live my life the way I was and make an effort to do that even though I don't have an arm, or I can just let this be completely debilitating and bring my life down and ruin it. Out of those two, there's really only one that I would actually choose and that's to try to fight and live a normal life with the cards I've been dealt.

What message do you have for others?

Thank you for everybody's support. I've gotten a massive amount of messages from people from all over, wishing me well, I'd like to thank them for that. To my friends back home, I can't wait to see them again. A big thank you to everyone who helped me out at the beach. Thanks to the ambulance crews and all the hospital staff who helped me throughout this whole ordeal.

A message from Sarah Treschl, Hunter's mother:

Thank you so much to everyone in the Wilmington community, in particular the New Hanover Regional Medical Center staff, for supporting and healing Hunter in this difficult time. I would like to thank his surgeon, Dr. Hooks, his nurses Holly and Christy, and all the members of the staff who help to care for him. I would like to thank my friends and family for their love and support, including Hunter's school community, the Thomas MacLaren School. Finally, I thank and honor my son Hunter for his example of courage, resilience, optimism, and mental strength.

Video clips of Hunter Treschl talking about his experience are available on NHRMC's YouTube channel.