By Phillip Whitten
July 1. US OLYMPIC multi gold medalist Gary Hall, Jr., and his sister, Bebe Hall, were attacked by a 6-foot black tip reef shark while they were spear-fishing yesterday off the Florida Keys.
Beebe, 28, was bitten and slashed by the shark, suffering a 3-inch gash, two rows of slashes and a puncture wound that required 19 stitches, but it was she who shot the shark in the throat, ending the attack. Gary suffered only minor injuries.
Afterward, Bebe said: "it was pure self defense. It must be credited to the women's self defense course I took my freshman year in college."
The two were out diving and spear fishing when Gary speared a large snapper. Bebe spotted a large reef shark, so they decided to head back to their boat. Gary held the snapper out of the water while kicking on his back, as Bebe kept a wary eye on the shark that began to swim toward them.
Suddenly, Bebe felt a bump on her shoulder. Unobserved, a second — and larger — shark had been attracted to the two swimmers. Bebe turned and saw the shark's head at her shoulder, then it turned and was swimming between Gary's legs as he kicked furiously.
Gary was yelling for Bebe to reload the spear, which she did, but with the shark between herself and her brother, she knew that if she missed the shark, she would shoot Gary.
Then, mouth agape, the shark turned toward Bebe for the kill. She shot it with her spear gun, the spear going down the shark's throat. Then she pulled out the spear. Discouraged, the shark swam away as the two swimmers reached their boat — and safety.
Brother and sister, though shaken by their nightmare ordeal, were physically fine despite their injuries. They intend to stay closer to their boat on future spear-fishing outings.