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Officials close 2 Long Island beaches after unprecedented shark attack

July 3 (UPI) -- Officials in Long Island closed two beaches to swimming on Sunday after a lifeguard participating in a training exercise was attacked by a shark.

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone announced the temporary closure of Smith Point and Cupsogue beaches during a press conference in which he described the shark attack as unprecedented.

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"We have never had an incident like this occur," he said. "Hopefully, we never will again."

Bellone identified the injured lifeguard as Zack Gallo.

The incident happened at about 10:15 a.m. in waters off Smith Point Beach where Gallo was pretending to need assistance during a training exercise.

The shark, believed to be between 4 and 5 feet, bit Gallo in the right hand and chest, Bellone said.

"If you're going to have an encounter with a shark this is probably the best scenario that you could have," Bellone said. "He was literally in the middle of a training exercise where he was playing the role of a victim and in the midst of that actually became a victim when this shark bite occurred."

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Gallo, who has been a lifeguard for 10 years, was able to exit the water and make it to a lifeguard station where his wounds were bandaged before he was transported to Southside Shore University Hospital where he received stitches, Bellone said, adding that Gallo was "doing well" and was in "very good spirits."

The Suffolk County executive added that a lifeguard spotted a shark in the waters sometime after the attack, but it was unknown if it was the same animal.

The two beaches, he said, would remain closed for the rest of Sunday with expectations they would be able to re-open for the holiday Monday.

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The attack comes after Nassau County authorities said a 57-year-old man swimming in the ocean at nearby Jones Beach sustained a laceration to his right foot that medics believe was the result of a "possible shark bite."

That same day, a teenage girl lost her leg after she was attacked by a shark along the coast in northwestern Florida.

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