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Family friend saves boy from shark attack

By adriana_acosta
July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.

Nicholas Vossler sits outside Froggies in Port O'Connor on Wednesday. On Thursday, he was attacked by a shark, and is being treated at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

A fun day at the beach was all they had planned.

Days filled with fishing, playing in the sand and enjoying the surf were part of the Fort Worth Vossler family's month-long plan as they spend their annual summer vacation at Port O'Connor.

But this summer would be different.

On Thursday, 12-year-old Nicholas Vossler was enjoying a day at Sunday Beach on Matagorda Island with his family when a bull shark attacked and bit his foot.

"I knew something was wrong when he yelled out and I saw the panic in his face," said Cecil Vossler, Nicholas' father.

On Saturday, Vossler and his wife, Alisha Vossler, talked about the attack, while staying with Nicholas at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Vossler saw his son being pulled down into the water.

"I saw he was being yanked," he said.

Luckily, his long time friend, Mark Constien, of Fort Worth, was nearby and grabbed Nicholas.

"He saw what was going on and pulled him away from the shark," said Vossler.

Vossler then saw his son's foot, bone exposed and skin hanging from his foot.

"All I could do was take the flap of skin and place it back in place," he said.

Constien and his son Kevin Constien carried Nicholas as Vossler placed pressure on his foot to stop the bleeding.

Nicholas said when the shark attacked him, he was never afraid because he said he was in God's hands.

"When the shark bit me, I was in shock, but I knew everything would be OK," he said.

Nicholas said he enjoys swimming in the surf because that is where the big waves are.

Once they reached the Fishing Center, the father yelled out asking for the fastest boat available.

"We had angels watching over us that day," he said.

Capt. David White, of Victoria, saw them carrying Nicholas and helped transport the boy to Port O'Connor from the beach. Port O'Connor EMS volunteers and Calhoun County EMS then responded to the scene.

"Once we were in the boat, Nicholas looked up at me and said, 'Mom, we need to pray,'" said Nicholas' mother, who added he was conscious and positive through the entire incident.

His next question was to his dad, asking if he could still play football this season, she said with a smile on her face.

A CareFlight helicopter crew flew the 12-year-old to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Because the helicopter only had room for his son, Vossler said they had but a few minutes to run to their place and change and head to Houston.

"In my mind, I was worried about him bleeding out, you always hear about the shark attacks and the bleeding," he said. "And the severity of his wound, but they reassured us he was OK."

Nicholas' mom said even though it was a serious situation, he has been in good spirits and can now joke about what happened saying when the shark bit him, he didn't scream like a girl. Once he arrived at the hospital, he told the staff how much he enjoyed his flight to the hospital.

After a second surgery on Friday, Nicholas asked for a bag of Funions, she said.

"All I could find was Nacho Cheese Doritos," she said jokingly.

Nicholas' father said the week has been a wild one.

Just a few days before, the family was out for a day of fishing when they saw a small plane crash into the Gulf.

First at the scene, they tried to help, but were unsuccessful in finding anyone from the crash.

"Watching the plane accident was hard on my son, trying to get over what he had seen, and then this happened," he said.

On Saturday, he was listed in good condition at the hospital, but he has three more surgeries on his foot to repair his bottom sole and replace the missing tissue. His next surgery is Sunday.

After he is released from the hospital, he will return home to Fort Worth.

"I am looking forward to playing sports and going back to fishing, but I know I have to take it a little easy until I get better," he said.

Their faith in God has kept the family calm and strong through the entire ordeal, Vossler said.

"We also have a lot of friends that are praying for us and supporting us," she said.

Vossler said he believes his son will not let the accident stop him from his love of being in the water and believes he will be more cautious of his surroundings.

"When we go out fishing, I always tell Nicholas to be cautious and to consider himself lucky he had never been bitten by a shark," he said.

"A few days ago, Nicholas looked at me and said, 'Dad you were wrong about that one.'"

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