Lehigh Valley

Lafayette College student helps save shark bite victim

Justin Hoot, at home in California for the summer, joined others in rescue effort.

Lafayette College student helps save shark victim

It turns out a student from a local college was one of the people who jumped into action to help a man recently bitten by a great white shark in California.

Justin Hoot will be a junior at Lafayette. He is home in California for the summer and was working at a surfboard rental tent in Manhattan Beach when the shark attack happened Saturday.

At first he thought what he heard was cheering.

"We heard this cheering, or what turned out to be screaming, and then we saw a standup paddler waiving his paddle in the air and then we heard the word shark," Hoot told 69 News over the phone Wednesday.

Many people would not run into the water when they hear that, but that's just what he did to help 50 year-old Steven Robles, who had been bitten by a seven-foot-long juvenile great white shark.

"When I heard the noise I grabbed one of our largest surfboards and I sprinted down to the water. When I got there, there were a few people standing on the beach and they just pointed at the man in the water," explained Hoot. "When I got to him there were two other swimmers helping him and a surfer and we got him onto a soft top surf board."

"Steven was in shock. He couldn't talk and he wasn't aware of what was going on around him. He was just holding his wound and screaming," Hoot added.

Hoot is from Hermosa Beach. The 19-year-old is working on a dual degree in biology and economics at Lafayette College.

He said he went through the junior lifeguards program for seven years and they practiced rescuing people with paddle boards.

He said it was a team effort Saturday and he was just in the right place at the right time.

"I didn't really think about it. I just kind of grabbed the board and ran because I knew that they needed help and I think that's almost something that I kind of learned at Lafayette because it's a very challenging school and at a lot of times there's chaos and you kind of have to see through it and keep yourself calm," he said.

Hoot and others were able to get Robles to lifeguards and paramedics on the beach.

Robles is recovering. He has flesh wounds and a punctured artery in his hand.

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