Shark attacks Long Island lifeguard playing role of a victim during training exercise

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New York officials closed a Long Island beach over the July 4 holiday weekend after what they called an unprecedented shark attack that injured a lifeguard.

Suffolk County authorities said the attack took place about 10:15 a.m. Sunday while a Smith Point Beach lifeguard had been playing the role of a victim during a training exercise.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the shark, estimated to be 4-to 5-feet-long shark, bit the lifeguard in the chest and on the hand.

The shark's species was not immediately known and the lifeguard was expected to recover.

After the attack, Bellone said, the lifeguard received immediate treatment from other officials already engaged in the training.  He was then taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.

The lifeguard, s a 10-year veteran with the county, was in “very good spirits,” Bellone said.

“If you're going to have an encounter with a shark this is probably the best scenario you could have,” Bellone said. “We have never had an incident like this occur. Hopefully we never will again.”

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Three adult silky sharks swimming near the ocean's surface.
Three adult silky sharks swimming near the ocean's surface.

Bellone said there was an additional shark sighting following the attack, but he said it was not clear whether it was the same shark that attacked the guard.

The beach was closed to swimming the rest of Sunday.

It was expected to reopen Monday with additional shark monitoring, officials said.

Contributing: Associated Press.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Long Island lifeguard attacked by shark during training exercise