When Sarah Cline heard a man in the ocean screaming for help, she immediately rushed to his aid but didn’t initially think shark attack.
“I was worried that he was being pulled out by a rip current,” Cline, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, resident who will begin her freshman year at Northeastern University this fall, said in a telephone interview. “That had happened to me when I was younger, and it was terrifying. I felt very helpless in that situation, so I wanted to help him out.”
On that July 1 day on North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island, Cline was at the beach with her boyfriend and his family and friends. Cline called for others to help and then swam toward the man—Andrew Costello, a former Boston Herald editor—who was about 30 feet away. As she approached, he shouted for her to get out of the water. Moments later, after he escaped and was being helped ashore by his son, Cline saw bloody bite wounds on his leg. She then rushed down the beach yelling to other swimmers, including two children on boogie boards, to get out of the water.
When Cline returned, she comforted Costello on the beach as emergency responders treated him. She asked him questions to help take his mind off the incident, a conversation during which they realized their Boston connection. She recalled that he was incredibly calm, even smiling and joking at times.
“I asked him if he needed someone to hold his hand,” she said. “I remembered that whenever I am scared, my mom lets me squeeze her hand as hard as I need to.”
At the time the shark attack marked the seventh at North Carolina beaches in three weeks. Cline noted that the recent incidents had been on her mind and that “everyone was talking about them” back home, adding that she’s even had nightmares about sharks in the weeks following the attack.
Costello, for his part, was reportedly discharged from a North Carolina hospital on July 25 and returned to his home in Wareham, Massachusetts, where he is still recovering.
Ready for freshman year
Cline attended her Northeastern orientation last week and is eager to return to campus in September to begin her freshman year. She is enrolled in the College of Computer and Information Science and also plans to pursue a minor in criminal justice.
The university’s signature co-op program was among the key factors that attracted Cline to Northeastern. She said she aspires to work for the government, a dream that was partly inspired from growing up watching the animated TV show Kim Possible, which centers around a teenage crime fighter. This interest was then boosted by the NBC series Chuck, which aired from September 2007 to January 2012. The show follows a computer geek named Chuck who draws the protection of a CIA agent named Sarah after he opens an email encoded with government secrets.
Cline said she felt a kinship with Sarah—they shared the same first name and blonde hair color. “I just loved that show,” she said. “I identified with Sarah and wanted to be her.”