Note: This article contains graphic content.
When 11-year-old Maren Kesselhon was pulled from the water just north of Duluth, Minnesota, her ankle and foot were covered in blood.Screenshot/KBJR
The little girl was out on Island Lake with her father that day as he pulled her behind his 16-foot boat on a paddle board.
As she explained to KBJR, she jumped off the paddle board to cool off, then she felt a tremendous bite on her ankle:
“I felt my whole foot in its mouth. I was screaming. I was so terrified.”
Kesselhon kicked the creature with her other leg and it released its grip around her foot.
Her father, Ryan, was turning the boat around when he heard his daughter scream.
Ryan told the Duluth News Tribune that he didn’t know what his daughter was panicked about at first:
“I couldn’t figure out what she was screaming about. Then she lifted her foot out of the water, and I could see it was filleted open in many places.”
As the Star Tribune reports, when Kesselhon was pulled from the water into the boat she was bleeding, badly.
Her foot and ankle were sliced open in 25 places.Screenshot/KBJR
Some cuts were reportedly so deep they reached down to the bone.
Kesselhon was rushed to the emergency room where she had to be sedated for treatment, including stitching nine of her 25 lacerations and repairing a tendon.
Due to the clean, razor-sharp cuts, doctors believed the little girl had been bitten by a muskie, which is known for having rows of razor sharp teeth.Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
However, after a woman swimming in the same spot a few years earlier received similar lacerations from an otter bite, worries began to grow that Kesselhon would need a rabies shot.
According to the Star Tribune, in 2012, Leah Prudhomme was training for a triathlon when she was repeatedly bitten by an otter. She, too, had 25 lacerations on her body, but because she saw it was an otter that bit her doctors knew to give her a rabies vaccine — one shot in each of her 25 wounds.
After consulting online fishing forums, Ryan trusted the guidance of the doctor who was “100 percent sure” the little girl sustained a fish bite.
Kesselhon is recovering and her father expects she’ll be back in the water in no time. As he told the News Tribune:
“She’ll be back in the water. She’s not too shaken. She knows this was a freak incident and that she’ll never experience this again.”
Interestingly, as the Star Tribune reports, it was later revealed that Kesselhon was wearing an ankle bracelet with a charm dangling from it when she was bitten.
It is suspected the ankle bracelet could have drawn the attentions of the hungry fish.