Following a Sunday afternoon at the beach with her family, a North Carolina teenager is keeping her spirits up after being brutally attacked by a shark.
According to WITN, 17-year-old Paige Winter was at Fort Macon State Park with her family when a shark attacked her, leaving “deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic, and hand areas.”
A GoFundMe account created to raise money for future medical cost revealed that Winter went in for immediate surgery after being flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville:
Due to the severity of the attack, amputation of the left leg above the knee was inevitable. As family friends, we sit here hoping we can do something that could bring just a tiny bit of relief that may assist with Paige’s road to recovery.
As NBC News reports, a witness at the beach that day, Lacy Whorton, described the shark attack as unlike anything she has ever seen before.
She told NBC News that “everybody started screaming” as lifeguards grabbed the teen from the water, pulling her to safety.
Rangers said that after Winter was attacked, they discovered “several sharks” swimming near the shore.
On June 3, the GoFundMe account shared an update on Winter’s condition. The 17-year-old’s surgery was successful and her mom, Marcy Winter, said her daughter was awake and “cracking jokes.” The teen also asked her mom to share a brief statement on her behalf:
She wants everyone to know that sharks are still good people.
And in a separate statement issued by the hospital caring for Winter, the teen still remains an “advocate for marine life”:
“Despite this unfortunate circumstance, Paige is an unwavering advocate for the marine life and the animals who live in the water. She wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety.”
According to National Geographic, there are ways to prevent a shark attack and ways a person can protect themselves if they ever find themselves in a shark attack situation. Here are a few:
• Stay away from the mouths of rivers after heavy rains.
• Swim clear of fishing boats.
• If you’re bleeding, including menstruating, stay on the beach.
• If you cut or injure yourself in the water, get out!
• If you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible.
• Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted.
• Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to be risky colors) or shiny jewelry (which may appear to be like fish scales).
• If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water.
• If an attack is imminent, defend yourself with whatever weapons you can, advises the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. “Avoid using your [bare] hands or feet if you can avoid it; if not, concentrate your blows against the shark’s delicate eyes or gills.” A shark’s snout is also said to be sensitive.
• If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, says ISAF’s George Burgess, “I advise to be as aggressively defensive as you are able. ‘Playing dead’ does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas.”
Winter remains in “good condition.”