ABC Exclusive: San Diego great white shark attack survivor Keane Hayes speaks on his recovery

Posted at 8:07 AM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 14:04:25-04

(KGTV) - Despite 1,000 stitches from being attacked by a great white shark last month, Keane Hayes told ABC News he can’t wait to get back into the water.

On Wednesday, the 13-year-old returned to school after the Sept. 29 incident, and he spoke exclusively to ABC News about the ordeal and his recovery.

Keane was lobster diving off Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas when a shark later identified as a great white attacked him.

He told ABC News, “When I was in the water, I was like, ‘It’s probably a big fish.’ My mind instantly went to ‘shark.’”

Even as he was helped to shore by several lifeguards, swimmers and kayakers, Keane found the strength to make an interesting request.

“The first thing I said when my mom came up was, ‘Can you take pictures for Instagram?’” Keane said.

Keane was rushed to Rady Children’s Hospital, and the attack left him with serious injuries to his back, torso, left arm, shoulder and face.


During his hospital stay, Keane received visits from skateboarding legend and San Diego native Tony Hawk, and pro surfer Bethany Hamilton.

Hamilton survived a 2003 shark attack but lost her left arm. However, she has gone on to have a successful career.

Keane said of meeting Hamilton: “It was really cool. She showed me how she plays pool. She holds the stick and hits it with her hip. I tried that.”

Doctors said Keane’s recovery is expected to last several months, but he said he’s itching to get back into the water.

“Hopefully really, really soon,” said Keane, who added that he wants to lobster dive again and likes sharks even more now than he did before the attack.

His mother, however, wants to take some precautions when her son gets back in the water.

“He’ll be wrapped in bubble wrap,” she said.

Recently, Keane received a lifetime fishing license, courtesy of the California Wildlife Officers Foundation.

10News learned Keane and his family face high medical bills stemming from his transport to the hospital and hospitalization. A GoFundme account was established to assist the family; visit to learn how you can help.