This morning some local fisherman mistook an American tourist for a bull shark who was almost about to be killed.
David Smith, 27-year old 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.
Mr. Smith, around 10:00 AM, moved a few hundred meters away from his friends putting a fake shark fin to pull a prank on them.
He swimmed towards the beach with only the fin emerging from the water, which provoked an instant reaction from the local fishermen.
He was encircled by more than a dozen fishing boats filled with men armed with harpoons only 20 meters away from his friends.
In his directions, the local fisherman’s fired dozens of projectiles and speared him a total of nine times before they realized their mistake.
One of the victim’s friend, Francis McKensie, who witnessed the incident said that 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.”
The victim said that 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.”
Finally, the fishermen understood that Mr. Smith wasn’t a shark and they rapidly carried him to the shore and called for help.
He was transported to six hours to 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.
Among pranksters, fake shark fins have been popular items 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.