Miami-Dade County

‘If I would have panicked, I would have died,’ man says after encounter with shark

Bull shark attack victim saved by friend

Alvaro Ordonez, who was injured by a shark over the weekend, credits his best friend Erick Salado, an orthopedic trauma surgeon, with saving his life during a press conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center.
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Alvaro Ordonez, who was injured by a shark over the weekend, credits his best friend Erick Salado, an orthopedic trauma surgeon, with saving his life during a press conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center.

When Erick Salado saw water splashing and shark fins surrounding his diving buddy, he quickly swam toward the commotion.

As he got closer, he saw a cloud of blood surround his buddy, Alvaro Ordonez.

“I didn’t know what happened,” said Salado, who was out spearfishing with Ordonez and one other diver about three miles off Key Biscayne on Saturday.

While they’ve had run-ins with sharks before, this seemed different, Salado said.

“I thought the shark got the fish,” he said. “I started dragging [Alvaro] by the the hood and realized that blood was shooting from his arm.”

Salado, an orthopedic surgeon who practices in Hialeah, got Ordonez to the boat and used his bungee chord attached to a flashlight to create a tourniquet.

The bull shark attack occurred when Ordonez tried to get the swarming sharks away from him and a fellow diver. His arm “got sawed” by the shark’s teeth. Ordonez said the shark’s mouth never closed on his arm, although he said the shark was “massive.”

“It could have been much worse,” Ordonez said, saying he felt like he was in a scary movie as the sharks circled him. “If I would have panicked, I would have died.”

The two spoke Tuesday about the ordeal at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center.

After getting Ordonez on the 27-foot Contender boat, they rushed him to Key Biscayne’s No Name Harbor, where police and rescue crews waited. He was whisked away in a Fire Rescue truck to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson. Ordonez said two surgeons worked on his hand for five hours to repair severed tendons, fractured bone and a severed artery.

Ordonez, who is a dentist in South Miami, said it will be a few weeks before he will be able to use his hand.

And when asked if he plans on getting back in the water: “I am going to be diving again as soon as I recover.”

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