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Shark bites Boy Scout paddling canoe

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 11:15 AM EDT
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(Gray News) - A 15-year-old is getting surgery on his hand after a shark bit him while he was canoeing.

Eddie Cahill’s Boy Scout troop was boating Wednesday off Catalina Island, near Los Angeles, when the attack occurred.

“Something slammed into the bottom of the boat, lifted the canoe up. It then slammed us back down into the water,” Eddie said.

When Eddie and his dad, Daniel Cahill, were paddling their 11-person canoe filled with Boy Scouts, he thought the canoe hit a rock, but it turned out to be a shark.

His hand was near the water to paddle, and he said the shark came up and bit it.

“The shark comes up and kind of hits the boat like this,” Eddie demonstrated. “My hand is maybe here so I’m reaching out. The shark comes up. It slides against the boat like that, and my hand was there. And then it slides down and resubmerges. At that moment I’m freaking out because I didn’t want to capsize, and I didn’t want any of the other scouts to get in the water.”

His dad, in the back of the canoe, started to panic.

“It’s a shark! Row row, you know, we all start rowing. Eddie says, ‘I lost my paddle. I think I lost my finger,’” Daniel Cahill said.

Adrenaline kicked in. Eddie saw the blood but didn’t feel the pain.

Ever the Boy Scout, Eddie stayed calm, applied pressure to the wound and made sure others on board made it to shore safely.

His dad, an assistant scout master, and nine members of Troop 176 from Riverside paddled back to shore like their lives depended on it.

“It cut the ligaments that were holding my finger in place so it was just kind of hanging down,” he said.

A shark expert believes the animal was probably a great white.

The star scout was taken by helicopter to Harbor UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery.

He and his dad are grateful for what didn’t happen.

“He’s going to keep his hand and the boat didn’t turn over, kids didn’t end up in the water. I’m thankful for that,” Cahill said.

“I didn’t even lose a finger. I damaged my hand pretty badly, but I think I will make almost a full recovery,” Eddie said. “But I could have lost multiple fingers. I could have lost my entire hand. I could have lost my life.”

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. KCAL, KCBS, KABC and CNN Newsource contributed to this report.