Not every week is fun in the news business, but this week was especially so because it featured several compelling and memorable stories. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from this week in my opinion:
•Jess Rutherford will never forget the summer of 2015 and it’s not even half over yet.
Rutherford and her friends were on the beach late Sunday night fishing when a group south of them hooked up with a hammerhead shark, which turned out to be the second catch-and-release shark of the night for the group of surf anglers. Rutherford and her friends rushed down to see the shark before it was released.
A little bit later, the shark was back in the break zone and washed ashore again. While helping it back to the ocean, the group noticed little sharks were coming out of her. They then stopped trying to send her back into the water and helped with the birthing process.
In her words, Rutherford said, “We tried to push her back, but she just kept having babies. It was pretty amazing. We were finding pups all over the shore and we were running up and down the beach and collecting them and getting them back into the ocean as fast as we could. We were frantically trying to put them back into the ocean as fast as we could, but they kept washing back up onto the beach. Finally, we started wading into the ocean further so we could get throw them out behind the breakers because the surf was pretty rough that night.”
Although it’s unfortunate about the female mother shark dying, that’s one tremendous fishing tale, one none of them will ever forget.
•Sticking with the memories, hundreds of kids still out on the beach in the late afternoon and early evening hours on Wednesday witnessed a shark up close. Thousands more likely saw it throughout the day on Thursday, but not quite as close.
The shark was such a factor the Ocean City Beach Patrol had to clear the water multiple times Wednesday afternoon and K-Coast and Endless Summer surf shops had to cancel their planned surf camps, which of course are held in the ocean.
Throughout Thursday, the same shark, presumably, also had the beach patrol on high alert. Several amateur videos and blurry cell phone camera images dominated social media news feeds, as emotions ran the gamut, from hysteria to excitement.
I recall other times as a kid when sharks were seen along the shore, but I don’t remember there being multiple sightings over a two-day period and never of the 10-foot variety. It’s anyone’s best guess at this point, but my guess is the shark was pregnant and looking for shallow water to give birth.
•Early reports were so grim about what happened in Fenwick Island last Saturday night it was particularly wonderful to hear the 9-year-old boy involved in the pedestrian accident should have a complete recovery.
Typically, due to privacy laws, it’s almost impossible to determine the condition of a victim of these sorts of accidents, but thankfully due to a family friend starting a Go Fund Me page for medical expenses the boy’s condition was able to be ascertained.
Although he has significant internal injuries that will take time to heal, there is nothing lift-threatening apparently. Additionally, while it seemed impossible after hearing how grisly the crash contact was from witnesses, the boy has no brain, neck or spinal injuries and “the doctors expect him to make a 100-percent recovery,” according to a family friend interviewed by News Editor Shawn Soper.
This incident is yet another reminder for parents to hold their kids’ hands while crossing any road, particularly those here at the beach. This family was having a wonderful vacation day, visiting Assateague earlier in the day and playing with the horses, according to the mom’s Facebook page. Things changed so fast for the entire family and they are fortunate there was no tragedy here, but hopefully it scared enough people to exercise extreme caution in the future.
•I feel like I have known Bill Shockley forever, but I don’t know how we met. One thing I do know is he never drove me anywhere on a school bus.
That’s how most people first met Shockley, who retired after 42 years as a Worcester County bus driver last week. He was feted by staff members at Ocean City Elementary School on his last run of his career last Thursday.
A friend put the longevity of his career in perspective last week for me. “He drove me from elementary school into high school until I could drive and has driven my kids through elementary into intermediate school. I can’t see that happening again,” he said.
•Some other memories were made this week at Jolly Roger Amusement Park when a ride malfunctioned at the worst possible time.
If you were in the area on Tuesday, you recall the menacing clouds that overtook the area. It was an unforgettable scene. The ominous look was much worse than the actual storm, as it only brought some high winds, rain and thunder and lightning.
However, as the storm approached, the Ocean City Fire Department was forced into action to rescue people on a broken down ride at the park. The OCFD utilized its aerial bucket to rescue three people — two were customers and one was an employee. A happy ending that should not be taken for granted by anyone and kudos to the OCFD for a quick response.