Family: Son not letting shark bite sideline him


Roger and Lou Ann Hutto answer questions from Panama City Beach and Nashville, Tenn., media during a 5 a.m. news conference at Bay Medical Center on Thursday.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, July 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 11:35 p.m.
PANAMA CITY - The 16-year-old Tennessee boy who lost his leg in a shark attack on Monday already is planning his return to the high school sports scene, his parents said Thursday morning.
Roger and Lou Ann Hutto said their son, Craig, a high school athlete, has asked them if he could have the kind of leg prosthesis he saw in a running magazine recently.
"He knows he probably won't play basketball or baseball this season, but next season he will be a senior," Lou Ann Hutto said. "I think he sees a future."
Craig remained Thursday at the Bay County Medical Center and was in stable condition, hospital officials said.
It was there where the Huttos faced the cameras for five consecutive television interviews at a 5 a.m. press conference. It was the first time since Monday's shark attack that they had spoken to the media.
The family from Lebanon, Tenn., was vacationing at Cape San Blas in the Big Bend area of the Panhandle. Craig and his brother, Brian, were fishing in waist-deep water on what Roger Hutto described as "a perfect morning" when a shark ripped off part of Craig's right leg, which had to be amputated. Brian fought off the shark, preventing worse injuries.
"Something bumped him and he immediately kind of backpedaled," Brian said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Then he saw the fin and quickly realized it was a shark.
"I grabbed hold and started going back to shore," Brian said. "I remember at one point grabbing Craig's arm and I remember hitting (the shark) at least once."
Onshore, a team of nearby beachcombers rushed to address Craig's injuries and the family credits them with saving his life.
"You would never expect that the people who were there would be three nurses, a doctor and an EMT (emergency medical technician) person. All right there within an area of 50 feet. So if it hadn't been for those people. I don't think we would be standing here today," Roger Hutto told a Nashville television crew.
Lou Ann Hutto said Craig replays the incident over and over in his head. A psychiatrist chatted with Craig on Wednesday, she said.
"He wants to talk about it," she told CNN's Soledad O'Brien.
In fact, she said he's been talking non-stop since Tuesday when the ventilator was removed.
"We're just grateful he's here to talk about it," Lou Ann Hutto said.
Tears welled in her eyes occasionally when talking about the day she described as a "nightmare."
She held a tissue tightly in her left hand.
Between interviews, hospital chaplain Jack Hankins encouraged the Huttos from the shadows just out of view from the cameras.
"Those earlier things went very (well)," said Hankins as he gestured a thumb's up to the couple.
The Huttos said they had heard about the shark attack that killed a 14-year-old girl near Destin during their trip to Florida. But they said they didn't consider themselves in danger considering the attack had occurred 90 miles or so away.
A beach vacation is not likely in the family's future. Craig told them he doesn't want to go to the beach.
"Well, your dad loves to go out West. We'll go out West to go horseback riding," Lou Ann Hutto said she told her son.
She said Craig quipped back jokingly: "Momma, I'll probably get kicked in the head."
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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