(NewsNation) — A trio of shark bite survivors who recounted their stories on “Banfield” share a thread of resilience in their personal lives and reverence for the animals that nearly ended them.
Tiffany Johnson, Kent Beade and Keane Hayes will never be the same physically as they were before their fateful encounters, but they told Ashleigh Banfield the experience changed them in other ways.
Their experiences share some common threads. Johnson and Hayes only realized the gravity of their situations after feeling an innocuous bump. Bonde and Johnson each thought of family as they made crucial decisions to make sure they got to see them again.
“I remember thinking, ‘No, you will not take my life. I’m not going to die here,” Johnson said. She felt something bump against her and then noticed a shark had her by the arm. The shark eventually let it go, but she is missing her hand.
Keane Hayes was 13 when a shark bit him from behind in 2018. He says the lifeguards could see his lungs through his back.
“It got me pretty good,” Hayes said.
Hayes felt something hit him from the side and assumed it was his friend. However, it wasn’t until he saw the chunk taken out of his wetsuit that he realized what had happened.
His injuries required 1,000 stitches, and he is missing several muscles that were eaten clean off.
Kent Bonde lost 80 percent of his calf in a shark accident when he strayed too far from the boat during a spearfishing trip. He had a fish on his spear, and the shark was trying to get it but took one bite out of his leg instead.
Then, Bonde says, it swam off.
“It was clearly an accident,” he said. He swam toward his boat, around 100 yards away, telling himself he wanted his wife to know where he was if he was going to die. But instead, his wife saw him and helped him get back on board.
Bonde says we should call these shark accidents, not attacks, since they rarely hunt for humans.
“We’re doing something that’s attracting them in the first place,” Bonde said. “We’re spearfishing, swimming in an area that either their natural play happens to be in, and we happened to be there at the time.”
Johnson now has a prosthetic hand. So instead of focusing on what she lost that day, she focuses on what she can contribute through her program, Be An Overcomer Ministries.
“God is so good, and I’ve been able to help others in their struggles,” she said.
Hayes always loved the water and said it was important for him to get back in. Last year he went to the ocean hundreds of times.
“It just felt natural to go back into the water,” Hayes said. “It didn’t scare me. My mom was more scared than I was, which I understand. It just felt pretty natural, and I knew the chances of it happening again was slim to none, hopefully.”