RALEIGH — The father of a 17-year-old girl who was attacked by a shark off Fort Macon State Park earlier this month shared the dramatic story of how he rescued his daughter by punching the shark repeatedly until it let go.

Charlie Winter was in the water near his daughter, Paige, when he heard other teenagers swimming with them at Atlantic Beach shout, "Paige! Shark! Get her!" But when he looked in the water, he saw only a 5-foot trail of pink blood in the water.

Mr. Winter dove in and grabbed his daughter, pulling a shark up out of the water along with her.

"It was a big shark ... I immediately just started to hit it," he said at a press conference Friday. "I don't know how many times I punched it, but I hit it with everything I could and it let go."

Then the former paramedic ran for shore, applying pressure on his daughter's badly injured leg while the shark chased him "at arm's length," he said.

In the struggle, Mr. Winters added that his daughter had been attempting to pry open the shark's mouth with her hands. Afterward, he said she was calm and just kept repeating the word, "dad," as he carried her to safety.

"She's a tough little thing," he said with emotion in his voice.

Doctors said the teenager's left leg and two fingers on her left hand were amputated after what was likely a bull shark attack, based on tooth markings found on her bones. Mr. Winter said he saw two sharks in the water just after the attack, but doesn't know what types of sharks they were.

Attacks like this are rare, according to Eric Toschlog, chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at Vidant Medical Center. He was one of the doctors who treated Paige.

"I have not seen a wound of this severity, ever," Dr. Toschlog said, adding that there are usually only two or three attacks off North Carolina every year.

According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a research organization that tracks shark bite reports worldwide, there were a total of 32 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2018, making up 48% of the worldwide total. The number was down from 53 attacks in 2017.

Despite her injuries, doctors said Paige is in good spirits and should complete physical therapy and rehabilitation within six to 12 months. In a video shown at the conference, Paige said she wanted to use this incident to do something good for the environment and for sharks.

"Sharks are still good people and that's just kind of the truth, they're still so good and they're so cool," she said with a smile.

The June 2 incident was one of two shark attacks in North Carolina so far this month. A 19-year-old surfer said he was bitten on his foot last weekend.

Last year, North Carolina had three confirmed shark attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File.

(4) comments

Core Sounder

8 shark attacks in 2015 for NC beaches which set the record for shark attacks in NC. Looks like we are in for several attacks this year as well. I don't have a problem with sharks since I stay out of the water but how many sharks do we really need patrolling our beaches? Some of these huggers are trying to protect all sharks and do not seem to care much for humans. Kinda make one wonder just what we are turning into in America where we are being taught that some wild critter is more important than human life.

DeadBolt

And.. Why do you suppose the sharks are hanging around ? Ill give everyone 3 guesses . (its not for humans is one clue) [wink]

Tamabam

All the fishing piers, people throwing chum in the water to draw fish, plus the bait! If you're trying to attract more fish, sharks are part of the package, you don't get to choose, which fish you want to attract! Plus, all the big fishing boats, that are continuously fishing just offshore, or closer. NC has an abundance of big fishing yachts, esp. due to all of the tournaments now. I used to work on these yachts years ago. I know a lot of people would throw their unused bait overboard, before coming in, if they weren't gonna use it anymore. It stinks so bad, even after sitting for 1 day, esp. in the heat. I go to clean some of these boats & I could smell the rotten bait, before I got out of my truck! I've almost puked many times, when people would leave it in their bait boxes for wks at a time! I've also heard never wear jewelry when swimming in the ocean, but I don't think that's the reason. DeadBolt, that's my best guess, if you know of other reasons, please do tell! I have two daughters, one scuba dives & the other is at the beach quite a bit, so I worry about both of them. Esp. the one who scuba dives! I lived in the Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City area for 37yrs & don't remember there being this many shark attacks 30+ yrs ago, we might of had 1 a year, if that & the sharks were smaller. It seems to be getting worse, every year, along with the amount people that have moved here & way more fishing boats! Maybe we should have a couple shark tournaments each year! I don't see anyone upset over the 500-900lb Blue Marlins they kill each yr, who bother no one! After reading this story & many others, who would want to protect them? Is there too many out there now & not enough food, or Is their food supply slowily becoming contaminated & in short supply? Now they're attacking people? That's not normal activity for sharks, like you said, they don't usually come for or attack humans.

DeadBolt

Yup, about the time you say you cleaned these boats, etc, this area was rock and roll with commercial fishing. ie: you can say all ya want about the leftover bait from sport fishing. Now, since about 20 agency's have worked against it, its gone. All sharks do is swim , eat , and make little sharks, PERIOD. The reason for the increase is ample food supply, its that simple. If humans get in the way , well, so be it. The predator could care less. Their just chasing food. Now, again, you can increase for population, however, that would be marginal, and best i remember, there used to be 5 pier's, and virtually no attacks. So much for all the do gooders that infested our area with regulations. Best of luck staying safe in the water.

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