The scars from last year’s attack are barely visible this year. (Courtesy photo)
WACO, Texas (KWTX) Dr. Steve Cutbirth, a Waco dentist who was seriously injured in a shark attack last year while spearfishing in the Bahamas, was diving again Wednesday in the same place and accompanied by the same guides he was with in 2016.
"We went to the same spot,” Cutbirth said in a phone interview with KWTX.
Cutbirth and his wife, Sharron, are back in the Bahamas for the first time since the attack last July, where they’ve been going for three decades now.
But, this time they’re not only celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, but also marking the passage of a year since the well-known restorative dentist was attacked by a bull shark while free diving and spearfishing with his son-in-law and two experienced guides.
“It’s not as a big deal as you think,” Cutbirth said.
“It’s truly just like somebody having a car wreck and getting in a car and driving again. You just don’t really think about it. I’ve never really thought about it really."
In fact, Cutbirth said he started planning his return trip to the Bahamas while recovering from his injuries a week after the attack last summer.
He required more than 30 stitches to his face and knee after the shark, already agitated by blood in the water from a fish his son-in-law had just speared, attacked him as he speared a 10-pound fish.
There is no doctor on the island, so a nurse, who had never treated a shark bite, sutured his wounds while Cutbirth, who has performed thousands of surgeries, guided her through the procedure.
He said the work she did was amazing, leaving him with little scaring.
And after just a few days back on the island, he says the 350 permanent residents are buzzing about his return.
“They thought I went home and had to have had plastic surgery,” Cutbirth said.
“And I said ‘no, that nurse who had never stitched, but she knew how to clean it and numb it, put one stitch only in every cut.’”
Cutbirth said he had little hesitation jumping into the same waters on this trip, joking that his daughter had to push him overboard the first time.
He said he’s already seen several sharks.
“One came up and tried to nuzzle me a little bit and wanted me to pet him and I was thinking it was him,” Cutbirth said.
“He was a big, big, big one. He nuzzled me like flipper but I didn’t want any part of it.”
Cutbirth says he felt sure the bad luck couldn’t strike twice.
But if it did, he said, “That would be the icing on the cake for your story wouldn’t it?”
"Bottom line is, it’s a gorgeous island. The people are just wonderful and it was just a very, very interesting encounter. I mean who gets to get in a fight 15-20 seconds with basically a dinosaur and lives to tell about it?,” he said.