Erik Norrie was on vacation in the Bahamas when a shark bit into his leg. He fought it off and survived after massive surgery this week. This was not his first brush with brutal forces of nature, though. Guest host Celeste Headlee explains.
CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:
Now, as summer draws to a close, we have a harrowing tourism story from two weeks ago.
ERIK NOURRIE: Yeah, we were on vacation; my family and I were out on the boat, and it was a beautiful, sunny day in the Abacos, in the Bahamas.
HEADLEE: This is Erik Nourrie of Florida.
NOURRIE: Typical crystal clear, beautiful Bahama waters. And the kids were playing and swimming. And I took my mask and snorkel and spear, and went out to a little channel there to hunt.
HEADLEE: Nothing unusual – Erik hunts for dinner often. He spearfishes. And pretty quickly, he spots a good-sized fish darting around.
NOURRIE: Actually, took me some time to get it because he went down – way down – into a hole. So, I went down several times to get him.
HEADLEE: And then…
NOURRIE: And I ended up spearing a grouper.
HEADLEE: A grouper. OK, this story’s not actually about the grouper. It’s about another fish, and the moment when the vacation took a turn for the worse.
NOURRIE: I had the grouper in front of me on the spear and all of a sudden, I just felt this tremendous charge to my leg. And I looked back – you know, the shark was just biting off a large portion of my lower leg.
HEADLEE: Nourrie struggled and got away from the shark. But his injury was serious. There was a lot of blood. His oldest daughter radioed for help.
NOURRIE: The other kids, my wife just told them to look the other direction and “don’t look at Daddy’s leg,” and just pray.
HEADLEE: Erik Nourrie is a very religious man. He told us a couple days ago that in that moment, God kept him calm and alive – long enough to get to a hospital and make a relatively speedy recovery, despite losing a chunk of his leg.
NOURRIE: I’m feeling better. I walked this morning after the skin graft, so that’s good.
HEADLEE: That would be enough of an adventure, right? But this wasn’t Erik Nourrie’s first dangerous run-in with nature – not by a long shot.
NOURRIE: When I was a young kid in seventh grade, I got bit by a rattlesnake in my foot. That ended me up in intensive care for a couple weeks.
HEADLEE: And then there was that other thing…
NOURRIE: And also, you know, struck by lightning when I was a little kid. That sort of shot me in the air.
HEADLEE: But wait, there’s more.
NOURRIE: And the whole monkey thing, you know, the punch by monkeys, that was really kind of a silly thing.
HEADLEE: Erik Nourrie was in Brazil a while back when he got too close to a wild monkey.
NOURRIE: I guess he got a little agitated. I was too close, and he socked me.
HEADLEE: There was another monkey attack in an enclosure in Honduras. His wife snapped some photos of that one. Maybe its karma, maybe it’s a spiritual test of resilience. But Erik Nourrie says he travels a lot to fun, dangerous spots. So all this happening to one guy makes him the world’s unluckiest man. But the fact he survived it all makes him one lucky son of a gun.
NOURRIE: You know, I believe God’s in control. When it’s my time, it’s my time. And apparently, the other day, it wasn’t my time yet.
HEADLEE: Maybe when Erik Nourrie gets more time off, he should consider a staycation.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
HEADLEE: This is NPR News.
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