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Grey Matters Now

Mar 15, 2019

Ocean photo of Keane by Ellie Hayes Portrait photo of Ellie and Keane by Corey Vilicana.

Keane Webre-Hayes sustained traumatic wounds to his upper body, lost half his blood, underwent at least five hours of surgery, and received 1,000 stitches to repair his torn upper back, shoulder, torso and face, after he was attacked by a shark on Sept. 29 while diving for lobsters. His mother Ellie was on the bluff as the incident was happening. There happened to be several other divers in the water that day that calmly went straight into action and kept Keane alive and got him back to shore safely.

Keane was diving for lobsters with a friend just off the coast of Encinitas, a popular beach city in San Diego County, California, when an eleven-foot Great White shark attacked.

Since he woke up after his first surgery Keane has been adamant about getting back in the water to dive and surf again. “I definitely want to get back out there,” He told his 8th grade classmates, a few weeks after the attack, and he hopes to get back to surfing and skating, “really, really soon”! Keane has been quoting facts and statistics to his mom and the public about how improbable it would be for him to be attacked again. He does this to ease fears others may have about getting back in the water and also to rationalize to his family why it is ok for him to get back in. This young man is SO calm, intelligent, well-spoken and wise beyond his years. He even let me know that he was more at risk of a vending machine killing him than a shark attack (I looked it up and he is right)!!!

Despite Keane’s positivity and eagerness to resume his normal activities, the reality is he has a long road to recovery. His mother Ellie has been SO balanced at letting him own and express his feelings and being a responsible parent, being realistic about their recovery, and learning to navigate a strange new normal.

As we know, most of the deepest wounds are you cannot see, like the ones under Keane’s shirt and the intense and painful emotional wounds Ellie and her family have sustained and are still processing.

Ellie has consistently stated “We are so grateful Keane is alive but we have a long road ahead of us”. Everyone that was a part of that day on September 29, 2018, is on that road to recovery together. This is not just a story about the miracle of survival, this is a story that is still very much alive and is about healing layers of wounds and highly personal processing.

This is the rest of the story.

Click here to support Keane Hayes Shark Attack Survivor organized by Justin Wright.