(ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C.) — When a 17-year-old North Carolina girl was attacked by a shark, her dad fought back, hitting the animal “with everything I could.”
Paige Winter was rushed to the hospital after she was attacked in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, on June 2. Her left leg was amputated at her thigh, and she lost two fingers.
Winter’s father, Charlie Winter, a paramedic and firefighter, said he had been in the ocean with his daughter when he noticed pink in the water.
“Immediate dad thing — went straight to where the pink was and I dove under and I grabbed her,” he said.
That’s when he said a big shark came to the surface with his daughter.
“It kinda thrashed a little bit,” he recalled, and its “big eye [was] just staring at you.”
“I immediately just started to hit it,” Charlie Winter said at a news conference on Friday. “I hit it with everything I could and it let go.”
He said he grabbed his daughter and ran to shore — and kept telling her how much he loved her.
Paige Winter said in a video message on Friday, “When I was in that water I was like, praying. I’m 17, I have so much to do.”
A tourniquet was put on the teen’s thigh, which helped save her life, said Dr. Eric Toschlog, chief of trauma and acute care surgery, at the news conference.
“She stayed totally calm,” Charlie Winter added.
Dr. Richard Zeri, chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery, said the “devastating injuries” “will require a very long recovery time, extensive rehabilitation” and hand therapy.
But the teen is doing “profoundly well” and has no more surgeries planned, Toschlog said. She’s expected to be discharged to a rehab center soon, he added.
Paige Winter said she hopes she can transform this hardship into a positive experience for herself and to help sharks and the environment.
“They’re still so good and they’re so cool,” she said of sharks.
Despite her caring spirit, Charlie Winter called his daughter “tough.”
“She’s got this strength about her,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
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