Garden City surfer back in competition after shark encounter - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Garden City surfer back in competition after shark encounter

Folly Beach. Source: WCSC Folly Beach. Source: WCSC

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC/WMBF) - The Garden City Beach preteen who had a shark encounter at a surfing contest in August has decided to get back on his surfboard.

Tyson Royston is 11. His mom Christie says he was surfing with family in Garden City over the weekend when a shark swam near him, a shark he says was longer than his board.

At a surfing competition in Folly Beach several weeks ago, Tyson had his first meeting with a shark.

Folly Beach Public Safety Director Dennis Brown said the bull shark, estimated to be between six to eight feet in length, was spotted in the area of 1500 East Ashley Avenue on Sunday during the South Carolina Governor's Cup of Surfing.

Brown said the shark made contact with Tyson Royston's surfboard. Royston was not injured and was able to escape after unhooking his leash.

"I didn't feel it at first. I was just swimming, and it got tangled in my leash," Royston said, "it was pulling  me under. I slid off my board, and I kinda landed on it."

Bob Weaver, the boy's surfing coach from Murrells Inlet, saw what happened.

"All the sudden the water exploded, Tyson got lifted up and sucked down," Weaver said.

Weaver said he was standing in ankle deep water, about 30 yards from Royston and the shark. He said he knew he had to help him.

"By the time I got to where he was he was probably 40 yards off shore because the shark was tangled in his leash and taking him kinda offshore."

Weaver said he went out, grabbed the boy, and tossed him into a wave to get to safety. He said the shark pulled the board to a straight vertical position, called "tombstoning."

Neither Royston, Weaver or the surfboard had any damages once out of the water.

Royston said this incident doesn't change his love for surfing, a sport he has been playing since he was five years old.

"Shark's are always gonna be in the water because that's where they live and they don't mean to bite you if they do," Royston said.

Nancy Hussey is a director of the Southern South Carolina District of the Eastern Surfing. She says she saw the scene unfold and thinks the shark got tangled in the leash. Swimming in that area is not advisable, according to Brown.

After the attack, contest workers cleared the water, and the remaining competitions were postponed.

Bull sharks are known for their aggression and swimming in warm, shallow waters. But officials say such attacks in the area have been rare.

Tyson plans to take part in the Eternal Wave Surf Off at Surfside Beach on Saturday, Sept. 7.

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