Elderly Rockaway Beach shark attack victim Tatyana Koltunyuk underwent 5 surgeries in 8 days and is now permanently disabled: family

The 65-year-old Queens woman, who narrowly survived a shark attack on Rockaway Beach earlier this month, underwent five surgeries in eight days — and now has a “permanent disability,” her family said Thursday.

Tatyana Koltunyuk – who lost a large chunk of her left leg above the knee – will likely need further surgery and years of physical therapy, her daughter and son-in-law have said.

“[She] has undergone five surgeries in the first 8 days since the attack and will require more. Her medical team has predicted that recovery will require several years of intensive physical therapy and close medical monitoring, during which time her mobility will be significantly reduced,” her family said in a statement.

“While the full effects of her injury are not yet known, she has been left with a permanent disability.”

Koltunyuk, a former marine engineer originally from Ukraine, was swimming alone near Beach 59th Street around 6pm on August 7 when the apex predator eats her.

Tatyana Koltunyuk
Tatyana Koltunyuk underwent five surgeries in eight days.

Tatyana Lolpunyuk receives treatment from lifeguards after being attacked by a shark.
Koltunyuk reportedly lost 20 pounds of flesh in the attack.
NY Post

Tatyana Lolpunyuk receives treatment from lifeguards after being attacked by a shark.
Her family asked for help raising money for Koltunyuk’s continued recovery via a GoFundMe page.
NY Post

Lifeguards discovered her screaming and it was believed she had lost “about 20 pounds of flesh” from the bite, sources later said. She was admitted to Jamaica Hospital.

In an update on her condition Thursday, her family asked for help raising funds for Koltunyuk’s continued recovery via a GoFundMe page.

“Our mother is a sensitive, considerate and deeply proud woman who never asks for anything and always puts others before herself. So we are asking for help on her behalf,” they wrote.

“She is 65 years old and was eagerly looking forward to her retirement when she could – for the first time in her life – take a break. She talked about swimming in the ocean every day, walking around town with a new puppy, and traveling with her daughter and son-in-law.”

The historic attack was believed to be the first on the popular waterfront since 1953.

Tooth marks suggest Koltunyuk, of Astoria, may have been bitten by a bull or thresher shark, although a great white shark could not be ruled out, a source familiar with the incident said at the time.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing diza@ustimetoday.com.

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