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Eight-year-old boy pulled from water covered in blood after bite at Montreal beach


A film and TV editor from California watched his Montreal vacation turn from a monster horror film to an emergency responder hero movie before his eyes.

The saga started when his eight-year-old son, Max, was attacked by a creature in the water while at a beach in Montreal's Parc Jean Drapeau on June 26.

Max wound up screaming on the dock, covered in blood.

"It was a little bit like the first scene in Jaws," said the boy's father, George Mandl from his home in Los Angeles.

Mandl explained that he was playing hide-and-seek with his son Max on the Aquazilla inflatable play structure at Jean-Dore Beach when his son began to yell out in pain.

"He was in the water, next to the raft, and just instantly started screaming, kicking, thrashing around," said Mandl.

A lifeguard immediately pulled Max from the water by the life vest, put him on the dock, and Mandl ran to his son.

"There was blood gushing out of his leg in multiple places," said Mandl. "He had been attacked by a fish, we believe. What was weird was that as soon as he got out of the water he was still screaming and thrashing. That's when something in my parental brain clicked, and I ran over and saw that there was blood all over the place."

Was it a muskie?

The working theory is that a muskellunge or "muskie" fish bit Max and then cut him when thrashing around after the attack.

A muskie is a long, large fish with sharp teeth and, scaly cheeks and gill covers. Mandl has spoken to several people who are knowledgeable about fish and feel the bite marks match the fish, which is native to the St. Lawrence River.

If true, it would be a rare occurence as muskies rarely bite humans, but Muskies Canada Montreal chapter president Nicolas Perrier feels the breed is the culprit.

"The injury is consistent with it," he said. "[It] has the marks of a muskie where you can see the snout has some teeth. So the snout part on the knee and the I guess what you can maybe call the canine lines, the side of the jaw on both sides. That's not a snapping turtle."

Perrier said the fish may have gotten into the man-made, landlocked lake during a flood.

"Maybe the marshy area had a bit of water on top of it, and maybe it got in that way," he said.

Perrier estimates that the muskie that bit Max would be more than a metre long and over 25 years old.

"That's probably a very large reproducing female," he said. "We'd love to see her back in the St. Lawrence."

Perrier and his fellow anglers have offered to catch the fish and release it back into nature, especially since Jean-Dore beach is still open. 

Muskellunge or "muskie" fish are found in the St. Lawrence River and rarely bite humans. On June 26, however, the theory is that it was a muskie that bit eight-year-old Max Mandl who was on vacation with his father. (NIcolas Perrier, Muskies Canada)

Trip to the hospital

After the attack, fast-acting lifeguards put Max in a boat, took him to shore and treated the wounds.

"They were very fast and I'm super appreciative for how well they handled the situation at the park," said Mandl. "I was really impressed by the team."

He was then transported to the Montreal Children's Hospital, where he was given stitches and checked out by an infectious disease specialist.

"They treated it like any other dog bite, open wound that would require cleanouts," said Mandl.

A spokesperson for Parc Jean-Drapeau said that the attack is being investigated.

Max Mandl, 8, spent some of his vacation at the Montreal Children's Hospital after he was bitten by something underwater when he was at Jean-Dore Beach at Parc Jean-Drapeau. (George Mandl)

"Various avenues are being explored, both in terms of causes and the deployment of actions in order to continue improving the quality of the experience for beach users," the statement from the Societe du parc Jean-Drapeau communications team read.

Mandl said his son is walking with a limp, and the wounds are bandaged.

"He's not allowed to go back into the water yet: doctor's orders," he said. "His wounds are not fully closed up, things are sort of coming back together."

The ordeal is not something either father or son will ever forget.

"That's not anything that I'd wish on any parent," said the father. "It's a horrible feeling to watch your kid bleeding for reasons unknown. It was very sudden, very suprising." Top Stories

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