DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – A Decatur man’s vacation turned into a story few can tell, and he is lucky to be alive to share it.
"It all happened so fast,” Chad Barker said reliving the trip to Belize. “It was just bam. I was in the water 30 seconds when it happened."
Seeking a thrill, Barker and his wife decided to jump into the water off the Ambergris Key to snorkel with some nurse sharks.
Like every good vacation, things never go as planned.
"The current swept me right into the middle of the feeding frenzy,” Barker said. "Two eight footers got a hold of my hand."
From the time Barker got in and out of the water was less than a minute, he said. The two sharks left him with some deep wounds on his hand that required stitches but there was no emergency room nearby, so Barker was taken to the OBGYN for medical attention.
When I pulled my hand out of its mouth, I was almost afraid to look at my hand,” he said.
What happened to Barker is rare. Worldwide there were only 84 shark attacks last year and only 6% of the attacks involved snorkelers.
"If it is going to happen, it is going to happen to me,” Barker said. I have a black cloud that follows me around, my calls it."
If you thought Barker’s story could not get any crazier – you would be wrong. The man with deep wounds on his hand decided to finish out his travel. The attack happened just four days into his weeklong trip.
"Pretty much stayed inebriated to alleviate the pain,” he said. "I wasn’t going to let it ruin my vacation. What was I going to do sue a shark for biting me?"
The vacation is one for the record books and a great story for Barker to tell.
"I paid $200 to have it stitched up and it is the best story in the world,” he said. “I got attacked by two sharks."
The work of the doctor in Belize was not really that great. He is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to remove the stitches, clean the wound – which is infected – and will have new stitches put back in.
WAND News did call the company who took the Barker’s on the adventure. They told us incidents like what happened to Barker are rare and that they take steps to protect the customers.
Barker and his wife plan to retire in Belize.