Officials at Orange County Global Medical Center identified the woman with “significant open wounds” as Maria Korcsmaros, an aerobics and fitness trainer in Corona. She is a mother of three — aged 16, 22, and 24.
The woman was pulled bleeding from the ocean off Corona del Mar State Beach at 4:15 p.m. Sunday when lifeguards on a patrol boat saw she was in distress, according to Newport Beach spokeswoman Tara Finnigan. Authorities said her wounds appeared to be consistent with a shark bite.
The lifeguards observed potential trouble where the woman was attacked and when they went to investigate, “sure enough she started waving her arms,” Finnigan said. The lifeguards managed to pull her out within a minute or two, she added.
“They think it happened just as they pulled up,” Finnigan said.
The attack prompted authorities initially to clear the ocean water of swimmers from the Balboa Pier south to Crystal Cove State Beach. Portions of Newport Beach were reopened Tuesday, but the state beach remained closed. Lifeguards reopened the beach from Balboa Pier south to the Wedge, according to Finnigan. Corona del mar State Beach to Crystal Cove remained closed, she added.
Since the Sunday attack, lifeguards searched the water for signs of sharks but “have not spotted a shark or any significant marine life activity,” Finnigan said.
Dr. Philip Rotter, director of orthopedic surgery at Orange County Global Medical Center, said Korcsmaros suffered what appeared to be one large bite on the right side of her body, stretching from her upper body to her pelvic area.
The wound was “very obviously a mouth,” he said. “You can see individual marks from individual teeth.”
Hospital officials said Korcsmaros was swimming about 1.5 miles off the coast, training for a half-Iron Man competition scheduled for July 10 in Canada, when she was attacked.
Rotter and Dr. Humberto Sauri both credited Korcsmaros’ level of physical fitness for helping to save her life.
“She had significant open wounds … those are wounds that would have bled a lot,” Rotter said. “She was able to tread water and hold her own until help arrived. So that’s pretty remarkable.”
Both doctors also said she was calm throughout the ordeal.
“She’s a very strong lady. She’s remarkably calm,” Sauri said.
Sauri said Korcsmaros will likely be hospitalized for at least another week.
According to Rotter, time will tell if she will have full use of her right arm.
“Remarkably, right now her nerves are all functioning,” he said. “… It’s much too early to tell … but right now it looks good.”
The hospital news conference to discuss the attack was interrupted when a member of the audience passed out, and the doctors rushed to her side, lifting her from a chair and placing her on the floor. It wasn’t immediately known if the person was a member of the media or with the hospital staff.
—City News Service
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