A North Carolina teenager is recovering in hospital after a shark attack left her with severe injuries from bites to her legs and hands, officials say.
According to Paige Winter’s family, her father had to punch the shark five times before it let the 17-year-old go.
She has lost some fingers and her left leg from above the knee, they said.
The hospital said she was in a good condition and that she hoped people would “continue to respect sharks in their environment”.
The teenager was attacked in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, on Sunday afternoon. Witnesses told local media people began screaming as she crawled from the water.
The Atlantic Beach Fire Department described her injuries to local media as “deep lacerations to her leg, pelvis and hand areas”. She was airlifted to the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville for treatment.
The hospital said her family was thankful for the support from the community and “her heroic father who saved her life”.
“Despite this unfortunate circumstance, Paige is an unwavering advocate for the marine life and the animals who live in the water,” their statement added.
“She wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety.”
Janet Winter, who identified herself as the girl’s grandmother, said on Facebook that her son punched the shark five times before it would release her.
“Surgery over she is still alive one leg gone,” she commented later. “May need a hand transplant in the future and several on the other. Please keep her in your prayers.”
A GoFundMe page for Paige and her father has already received over $5,000 (£3,900).
According to the fundraiser, Paige’s father Charlie is a marine, firefighter and paramedic.
Marcy Winter, Paige’s mother, said the teenager is “pretty groggy but cracking jokes” post-surgery.
“She wants everyone to know that sharks are still good people.”
Officials have not yet said what species of shark was responsible for the attack.
Shark attacks in the US
- 32 of the 66 attacks around the world in 2018 were in the US
- Four fatal attacks in 2018, with one in the US
- In US, most attacks occur in Florida (50%)
- But also happen in Hawaii, South and North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, and Texas
- Surfers involved in 53% of 2018 attacks globally
Last month, a massive cluster of great white sharks was seen 20 miles (32km) off the North and South Carolina coasts, including the six largest ones being tracked by scientists, CBS News reported.
The sharks migrate northward from the warmer Florida waters during the summer each year.
Florida had the highest number of shark attacks last year – 16. North Carolina, Hawaii and South Carolina had three attacks each.