Teen lifeguard speaks out after bitten by shark on Fire Island

Stacey Sager Image
Saturday, July 9, 2022
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A teenage lifeguard who was bitten off Long Island by what he believed to be a shark is now speaking out. Stacey Sager has the story.

OCEAN BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- A teenage lifeguard who was bitten off Long Island by what he believed to be a shark is now speaking out.

John Mullins, 17, of Islip says he was in the middle of a training exercise for the lifeguard test on Thursday and was about 100 to 150 feet off Ocean Beach on Fire Island. Just like another lifeguard earlier this week in Smith Point, he was playing the 'victim' in that exercise. That is when Mullins said he felt something on his foot.

"I could've lost my foot...just a scary thought," Mullins said, "the teeth were like inside my skin, and when I pulled my foot out, it kinda just felt like a scrape - like a rake going up my foot."

It was just like veteran lifeguard Zachari Gallo, who was bittn earlier in the week at Smith Point County Beach.

"I felt the rubber texture of the skin, and yeah - it wasn't a small fish," Gallo said.

Both lifeguards were ironically bitten while sitting still in the water - playing the victim during their training exercises - then becoming a victim.

Mullins tells Eyewitness News that Gallo's incident was in the back of his mind when he went out on Thursday. Just another week before that, yet another swimmer on Jones Beach was bitten on his right foot.

"We always talk amongst ourselves, and that we're like shark bait out there," Mullins said.

Those who supervise the lifeguards say the frequency of these recent attacks is surprising.

"We just have to do the best we can to patrol, send out the drones. If we see any bait fish - pull in the patrons and make sure that everybody's safe," said Captain Mike Guadi.

"So they're constantly training on all issues - including sharks, and they are watching," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Mullins needed five stitches, but the real hurdle is getting over the fear when he heads back to the water.

"I'm gonna continue...it's definitely gonna be scary, but I should be ok," Mullins said.

MORE NEWS: 'Look at this monster!': Great white shark spotted along Jersey Shore

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