Man recalls 1965 shark attack
July 11, 2011 at 2:11 a.m.
Thomas Darilek has a fisherman's tale that can't be beat, even by the most outrageous exaggerator.
He survived a shark attack.
Darilek, 59, said his family told him last week about 12-year-old Nicholas Vossler, whose left foot was bitten by a shark off the coast of Sunday Beach on Thursday.
Darilek recalled with clarity and a hint of humor the similar attack he experienced in the summer of 1965, when the Port Lavaca native was just 13.
His parents had dropped off him and a buddy at the Port of Port Lavaca - Point Comfort, like many other summer days on the Gulf.
"We would wade out to the ship channel there, as far as we could and fish into the deep water," Darilek said.
The kids had dragged a homemade platform out to their post and secured it with a sledge hammer.
Darilek's feet dangled in the water as the friends prepped their fish, throwing some of the scraps back in the water.
"Next thing I know, something grabs a hold of my foot," he said.
The teenager jerked his foot back, exposing his bone. The shark had pulled back his skin, just like Nicholas reported from his attack.
"My buddy asked me, 'What happened? A crab bite you?' I said no, no, a shark," Darilek said.
His friend lent a shirt to help stop the bleeding, but when the duo was unable to get a hold of Darilek's older brother on a nearby boat, Darilek offered a solution.
"You're going to have to wade to the bank. I'm bleeding real bad," he told his friend.
But of course, neither one was about to get back in the water with a shark lurking.
"I couldn't blame him, ya know," Darilek said with a chuckle.
After several minutes, his brother's boat arrived, and Darilek was taken to the Port Lavaca hospital. Darilek said he wasn't even in pain until the doctors gave him shots.
"He seemed to be kinda like I was," Darilek said of Nicholas, who talked about not being afraid after the attack. "I guess when your adrenaline kicks in, you don't think about the pain."
A two-and-a-half hour surgery, a few months wearing a cast on his foot and 46 years later, Darilek said he feels just fine.
His big toe doesn't move much, but he walks without problems. He mostly stopped wade fishing, and a fence was put up to keep people away from where he was attacked.
Darilek said he still goes into the Gulf, but he's more careful, usually wearing jeans. In fact, he went water skiing just a few days ago.
The attack is fresh in his mind, but Darilek called it "just one of those things."
"It's no big deal. I survived it."