Pattaya | An American tourist was almost killed this morning by local fishermen who mistook him for a bull shark.
27-year old David Smith and two of his friends were enjoying the first day of a two-week vacation in Thailand and had decided to spend some time at the beach.
Around 10:00 AM, Mr. Smith moved a few hundred meters away from his friends in order to put on a fake shark fin and pull a prank on them.
He started swimming towards the beach with only the fin emerging from the water, provoking an instant reaction from the local fishermen.
More than a dozen fishing boats filled with men armed with harpoons encircled the young man only 20 meters away from his friends.
They fired dozens of projectiles in his direction and speared him a total of nine times before they realized their mistake.
According to Francis McKensie, one of the victim’s friends who witnessed the incident, the fishermen reacted extremely fast and “fired without thinking”.
“We never even saw David or his fin approaching.We just saw a bunch of fishing boats hurrying past us and firing dozens of harpoons.”
Mr. McKensie says his friend rapidly emerged from the water, screaming from pain, but he had already been hit by several harpoons.
“He got his head out of the water and yelled ‘I’m not a shark!’, but he was immediately hit by two other harpoons.”
The fishermen finally understood that Mr. Smith wasn’t a shark and they rapidly carried him to the shore and called for help.
The young man was transported to six hours he Pattaya International Hospital, where doctors finally able to stabilize him after six hours of intensive care.
Thai national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said he was “very happy” to hear that the victim had survived. He declared that the fishermen who injured the young American man acted to defend the swimmers and no charges will be filed against them.
Fake shark fins have been popular items among pranksters for more than twenty years, and have caused several unfortunate incidents.
In 2009, two women were severely injured in Australia after being trampled by a group of swimmers running away from a man with a fin.
In 1996, a man was hit by 16 bullets and killed in Florida after approaching a private beach while wearing a fake shark fin.
Despite numerous accidents and warnings from authorities, many thrill seekers continue to buy and wear these items to try and scare their friends and family.