BREVARD COUNTY • PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, FLORIDA – On June 28, 2021, it seemed like a normal day for Officer Christy Kalicharan, 45th Security Forces Squadron police officer.
She was patrolling the north side of Patrick SFB when she received a call from the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC).
“I was on patrol when I received a call from BDOC about a shark bite incident at the Blockhouse Beach,” said Kalicharan.
Without hesitation, Kalicharan responded to the incident, knowing the victim’s injuries could be life threatening. She visualized what she might have to do during her 3-minute journey to the beach.
“I was the first officer on scene,” said Kalicharan. “I was waved down by two witnesses who said that there was someone bitten by a shark. I saw a woman laying down on a bench with a towel wrapped around her leg. There was blood all over the ground. She was very coherent, but you could tell she was in a lot of pain and looked very pale. She told me she was bitten by a shark.”
Gretta Lowry, a Cocoa Beach, Florida, resident and mother of two, had been bitten by a Bull Shark while surfing. She was paddling back to shore when the shark rammed her surfboard.
“It was like running into a concrete wall,” said Lowry. “The shark bit me twice, once on the thigh and then on the calf. It all happened so fast, I never even saw the shark and didn’t have any time to react during the attack.”
Lowry made it back to the beach where two of her friends called 911 and wrapped her leg in a towel. When she saw Kalicharan arrive, she said she felt like everything was going to be OK.
The officer urgently started assessing Lowry’s injuries, keeping her engaged in conversation so she did not go into shock.
“I removed the towel to assess her wounds and determine how severe they were,” said Kalicharan. “I noticed her right inner calf had several lacerations, but the injury that was the most concerning was on her inner thigh, there was a very deep laceration that was bleeding profusely.”
Kalicharan remained calm and fell back on the training she received from the 45th SFS.
“I immediately applied a tourniquet to her leg and applied pressure with a towel to stabilize the bleeding until Patrick SFB and Brevard County EMS (Emergency Medical Services) arrived,” said Kalicharan. “I told her it was going to hurt, but she took the pain like a champ.”
Shortly thereafter, Patrick SFB EMS arrived on scene and continued treating Lowry’s wounds. Brevard County EMS then transported her to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, where she received several stitches and staples.
Days after the incident, Kalicharan contacted Lowry to find out how she was recovering.
“Officer Kalihcaran reached out to me after I was released from the ER (emergency room) to check up on me,” said Lowry.
“It’s important to me that any type of victim I come across gets the full help and support they need,” said Kalicharan. “I don’t just want to be a face they see once and then disappear, I want to be there for them after the fact so they can have that relationship with us here at Patrick.”
Lowry will make a full recovery and said she will not let this shark encounter stop her from surfing. She is also grateful for Kalicharan and all those who responded to the beach.
“I cannot express enough gratitude to her and all the first responders who helped me that day,” Lowry said. “She was my guardian angel that morning. Thank you Officer Kalicharan for saving my life.”
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