GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN/Gray News) - Doctors say the life of a teenager who was attacked by a shark nearly two weeks ago was saved by measures taken before she arrived at the hospital.
Paige Winter has undergone multiple surgeries at Vidant Medical Center since the attack June 2 at Fort Macon State Park.
Through a recorded video, the teen briefly spoke publicly for the first time.
“I want people to see that I’m going to be alright and that I’m going to be able to do all the stuff that they can do,” Winter said. “When I was in that water, I was, like, praying. I’m 17. I’ve got so much to do.
"I think I can transform this into something good. It really helps to know that I’m not alone in this situation and there are other survivors of shark bites that have been sending me some love and that really helps.”
The 17-year-old New Bern High School student had her left leg amputated at the knee and extensive injuries to her hands.
Charlie Winter, her father, said the shark grabbed her and took her underwater. He said he saw pink on the water and it was moving, so he dove in.
“I dove under and I grabbed her,” said Charlie Winter. “I grabbed her with my left arm. It was a big shark. I immediately started hitting it. I hit it with everything I could and it let go.”
Charlie Winter, who is a paramedic and firefighter, said he could see the damage to his daughter. The father said he didn’t know the shark was chasing them as he brought her to shore.
As they reached the shore, he said his daughter said, “Dad!” And he responded, “I got you.”
Dr. Eric Toschlog, chief of trauma at Vidant, said there are no additional surgeries planned for the teenager and they anticipate her to be discharged to rehabilitation early next week.
The doctor said he has not seen a wound of this severity, ever. Toschlog believes a bull shark attacked Winter.
In addition to the amputation, doctors say Winter lost two fingers on her left hand. Dr. Richard Zeri said the shark’s teeth were extremely sharp.
“It looks like there was a knife taken to it,” the plastic surgeon said.
Doctors said Friday that Paige Winter should complete physical therapy and rehabilitation within six to 12 months.