Shark attack survivor throws first pitch at Padres game

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres welcomed a different kind of all-star to the ballyard Tuesday night when a Carlsbad teenager who survived a great white shark attack threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Nine months ago, 14-year-old Keane Hayes’ life changed forever.

“After I got bit, I swam 70 yards with with my arm basically off to a kayak and if I would have just gave up and sat there waiting for them I probably wouldn’t have made it,” Hayes said.

The Carlsbad native was attacked by a great white shark and suffered wounds to the left side of his upper body, including his back, shoulder, torso and face.

“It was hard to think about (that) I might not be able to use my arm again or it might not be the same,” Hayes said.

After five hours of surgery, 1,000 stitches, physical therapy and countless doctors appointments, he’s near a full recovery less than a year after the attack.

“I’m very excited, very amazed at what the body can do just with all the recovery and stuff because it basically took my whole arm off and now that I’m going to throw a first pitch, that’s pretty crazy,” Hayes said.

The former pitcher returned to the diamond Tuesday night at Petco Park, where the lefty took the mound to throw the first pitch.

“So it was super weird to throw again with a different body basically,” Hayes said. “But it felt good to be out there and get back at it.”

In addition to throwing in front of Padres fans and his family, Hayes also pitched in front of the doctors and physical therapists who have helped in his recovery — a special moment that he hopes to make everyone proud of.

“I just think I’m a survivor, you know,” Hayes said. “I can overcome things like a shark attack and all the small challenges like math homework. I can do that because I survived this so I can do other things.”

The Hayes family plans to host a Paddle Out for Survival in honor of Keane and first responders on September 7 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The event is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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