Shark bites 19-year-old at Galveston beach, severed her tendons

On May 28, 19-year-old Damiana Humphrey and her family were vacationing in the Galveston area from Oklahoma.

Damiana says she and her siblings were about waist-deep in the water when her sister-in-law saw something tan in the waves.

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"As I was turning, a shark grabbed a hold of my hand. I looked down and there was a shark attached to my hand, so I guess I started punching it," she said. "That part is kind of blurry to me."

She says the shark let go and swam away and she quickly got her siblings and herself out of the water. 

"They said [the shark] was about four to five feet," she said.

Galveston first responders transported Damiana to the hospital where she underwent surgery on her hand. She says four tendons were severed and she can't use her hand for a number of weeks, meaning she'll have to give up her patient care technician position for the summer.

"They said I should make a full recovery with my physical therapy," she said. "Honestly, I'm just glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been."

Peter Davis Galveston Beach Patrol Chief says shark bites like this one are not common in the area. While around eight million people come through Galveston beaches throughout the year, shark bites are only reported once every couple of years.

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"It's really rare for us to have shark bites here in Galveston. I've worked a few of them in my career and the ones I've seen were shark bites, not attacks. Meaning it was a case of mistaken identity where they latched onto a human and swam away it sounds like this may have been similar to that," he said.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of sharks out there. Dr. Kesley Banks Research scientist for Sportfish Center Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi says there are several species of sharks in the West Bay area and a healthy population of them.


"Especially off Texas, the most common species are black tips, spinner sharks, bull sharks. Around the summer we see hammerheads and tiger sharks. They're always there," she said.

She explained that the reason we see more shark encounters in summer months is because of the influx of people in the water.

Some tips from experts to avoid a shark encounter:

  • Shuffle your feet when walking through the ocean
  • Avoid places where other water sources open up to the ocean, like a river flowing to the ocean. Here there will be an abundance of "prey fish".
  • Avoid swimming in or around a school of fish.
  • Never go in the water if you're bleeding
  • If a shark does bite you, fight the shark off. Punching or pushing the shark in the nose and gills may get it to detach

FOX 26’s photojournalist Darlene Faires sourced and conducted interviews for this story.