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Chilling 911 calls describe aftermath of fatal Wellfleet shark attack

Listen to the 911 calls after the fatal Wellfleet shark attack
Listen to the 911 calls after the fatal Wellfleet shark attack

It was supposed to be a fun day at the beach. And then the unthinkable happened.

It was shortly after 12 p.m. Saturday when 26-year-old Arthur Medici was attacked by a shark while he was boogie-boarding in the water off of Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. He later died from his injuries.

Medici’s friend grabbed his bleeding friend and began dragging him back to the shore. When people on the beach realized what was happening, they frantically began calling 911, but apparently cell phone service was spotty on the beach.

The chilling first report was received by the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office at 12:11 p.m. Saturday. It was the voice of a state 911 dispatcher. She said a female caller was trying to report some kind of emergency at Cahoon Hollow Beach, but the call was cut off. “I think it might have been a shark bite,” the state dispatcher said.

Then more calls started coming in. It was indeed a shark bite. Most of the calls that came through to dispatch were from people who were far away from the scene.

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Listen to the 911 calls after the fatal Wellfleet shark attack
Listen to the 911 calls after the fatal Wellfleet shark attack

“Hello, I’m at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts,” said a man who witnessed the attack. “I’ve just seen a surfer get bit by a shark.”

“I’m sorry, you said somebody got bit by a shark?” said the dispatcher.

“Yeah, about 300 yards down the beach,” he said. “I saw the whole thing happen.”

“Sir, hold on please,” the dispatcher said. “Hello, Are you right next to the person right now?”

“No, I’m not, I’m off the beach,” the man said. “I watched the whole thing happen....It was a helluva hit, man. I saw the whole thing happen.”

The dispatcher told the man that other reports of the attack had come in, and help was on the way.

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“You think I should get the other surfers out of the water as a precaution?” asked the man.

The dispatcher didn’t answer his question.

“OK, do you know by chance if the person is conscious and breathing?” the dispatcher asked.

“I have no idea…I’m literally an eighth of a mile away.”

Another emergency call came from a woman who was closer to the scene.

“There’s been a shark bite,” she said.

“We have multiple reports of it,” the dispatcher said. “We have the fire department on the way.”

“OK good. Yeah I think they just tried to do the....they’re trying to restart his heart again. I think that someone needs to be here now.”

“I’m sorry, they’re trying to do what?”

“The heart compression thing, I don’t know what it’s called.”

“They’re doing CPR to this person right now?”

“OK, are you right by the patient right now?”

“No, I’m not,” she said.

The dispatcher asked the woman if she could get closer to the patient and so the dispatcher could make sure the CPR was being performed properly.

The woman warned the dispatcher that the cell phone service was pretty bad, but agreed to try. “I can go over and give the phone to them,” she said.

“Just let me know when you get there,” the dispatcher said.

In a matter of moments, the line starts to cut out, and eventually goes silent.

“Can you hear me?” the dispatcher asks. “Hello? Hello ma’am?”

“I’m having trouble hearing you, your phone is cutting in and out.”

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Witnesses said people gathered around the victim and did what they could to help until first responders arrived at the scene. But unfortunately his injuries proved to be fatal. He was taken to Cape Cod Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.