ENCINITAS, Calif. — Nearly two months to the day after a shark attack nearly killed a North County teen, the city of Encinitas honored his bravery along with the good Samaritans who helped save his life.
Keane Hayes spoke of the moment was attacked diving off Beacon’s Beach September 29.
“I wasn’t really thinking am I going to die because if I was thinking that I probably wouldn’t be focused on surviving,” said Hayes.
It’s that kind of will to live and bravery that was recognized by the city of Encinitas with a Mayor’s Certificate of Bravery for Hayes and a special proclamation was read for the three heroes who happened to be diving in the area with a kayak.
Hayes now calls those men “like family.”
In those crucial moments after the attack, the three men acted swiftly, without knowing the full extent of what had happened to Hayes.
“As he came onto the kayak, it was very obvious that it was much worse than anything else we could’ve had imagined,” said Matthew Ephron.
Ephron, an off-duty Oceanside Police officer at the time of the attack, said he and the other two men also knew the shark might still be lurking in the water as they worked to get Hayes back to shore.
It was a bittersweet night for Hayes’ family reliving the morning that nearly took his life, but also celebrating how far he’s come.
“I have to thank God for allowing him to live in allowing everyone else to be a part of his survival. I’m very proud of my son and the way he’s handled this,” said Ellie Hayes.
Today, Hayes is in physical therapy and doing well on his road to recovery. He said he’s back to skateboarding and will inevitably make his return to the water, just “probably not Beacon’s”.
Officials say there were a lot of things working in their favor — from the low tide, to land the rescue helicopter right on the beach, to lifeguards being in the area earlier than their usual shift, and Hayes’ own junior lifeguard training that helped him handle the situation the best way possible.