Shark Attack Amputee Hopes Her Story Will Be 'Good For Sharks'

A 17-year-old girl who was attacked by a shark earlier this month off the coast of North Carolina hopes her story can turn "into something good for sharks and good for the environment."

Paige Winter was standing in waist-deep water when she was attacked by a shark only one metre from her father Charlie Winter, a firefighter and former Marine.

In a press conference on Friday, Charlie Winter recounted the moments before the attack. He was in the water near Paige when he heard other teenagers swimming with them at Atlantic Beach shout, "Paige! Shark! Get her!"

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Charlie Winter describes how he grabbed his daughter Paige, 17, by her upper body to get her loose from a shark's grip at a press conference in Greenville, N.C. on Friday, June 14, 2019. Photo: Julia Wall/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS/Sipa USA

"I turned to where Paige was and there was no Paige," her father said.

"Paige was underwater, but there was pink on the water. I went straight to where the pink was and I dove under and I grabbed her.

When I pulled her up a shark came up with her -- it was a big shark and I immediately started to hit it. I hit it with everything I could and it let go."

Paige Winter and her father Charlie. Photo: SUPPLIED

But the American teen was the real fighter.

In the struggle, Winters added that his daughter had been attempting to pry open the shark's mouth with her hands. Both her hands were mauled trying to pry open the shark's jaws.

As a result of the attack, two fingers on her left hand and her left leg had to be amputated, thigh-high.

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Winter 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.

Winter said he saw two sharks in the water just after the attack, but doesn't know what types of sharks they were. Based on the tooth markings found on Paige's bones, doctors said it was likely a bull shark attack.

Charlie Winter is a firefighter.

One of the doctors who treated Paige, Eric Toschlog, Chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at Vidant Medical Center, said "I have not seen a wound of this severity, ever."

According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a research organisation that tracks shark bite reports worldwide, there were a total of 32 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2018, making up 48 per cent of the worldwide total.

The number was down from 53 attacks in 2017.

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Unprovoked shark attacks like this are rare. There were 66 of them worldwide last year, and four fatalities. But even more rare is Paige's attitude: no screaming, no crying and no self-pity.

"I want people to see I'm doing alright and you know, I'm still going to do the stuff they can do. I think I can transform this into something good for me, good for sharks and good for the environment too," she said.

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

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Paige's father said he "couldn't be prouder."

"The shark took her leg. It did not take her spirit," he said.

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