Paige Winter, now 19, lost her left leg and suffered major damage to her hands in the attack two years ago
A teenager who lost her leg in a horror shark attack while swimming at a beach in North Carolina told her dad not to be mad at the animal as she was being taken away in an ambulance.
Paige Winter, now 19, lost her left leg and suffered major damage to her hands in the attack two years ago, and is speaking out about her experience ahead of the premiere of National Geographic’s ‘Shark Attack: The Paige Winter Story.’
Winter was visiting the beach at Fort Macon State Park in North Carolina with her family on June 2, 2019 in waist-deep water when a bull shark pulled her under the water, chomping down on her leg.
She tried to fight it off, she said, but she suffered deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic and hand areas in the attack, and almost lost her life.
Fortunately, Winter was rescued by her father, Charlie, who punched the animal five times in the face until it let go of her leg.
She had to get her leg amputated above the knee and underwent multiple surgeries to repair her hands in the month that followed.
But she never blamed the shark, she said.
Winter told I News she remembers laying in the ambulance being pumped with morphine, telling her father: ‘Don’t be mad at the shark. It’s just a shark, it’s doing its shark thing.’
Winter remembers laying in the ambulance being pumped with morphine, telling her father: ‘Don’t be mad at the shark’
She had been an environmentalist before the attack, she said, and as she sat in the ambulance, she said, she remembered reading that after ‘Jaws’ was released in 1975, ‘people had shark-killing competitions. And I didn’t want that to happen.’
‘Sharks are good people,’ she told I News. ‘They are very misunderstood.’
In the years that followed, Winter has become an advocate for sharks, working with National Geographic on television shows about sharks, and speaking to actor Robert Downey Jr. about his Footprint Coalition – an environmental advocacy group, according to JD News.
She is now set to tell her story and share her newfound respect for sharks on National Geographic’s ‘Shark Attack: The Paige Winter Story,’ which premieres on July 12 as part of the channel’s ‘Shark Week’ programming.
She lost her left leg in the attack and had to undergo multiple surgeries on both her hands
Winter, right, will tell her story and share her newfound respect of sharks on ‘Shark Attack: The Paige Winter Story,’ which premieres on July 12 on the National Geographic channel
The attack occurred on June 2, 2019 when she was visiting Fort Macon State Park with her family and was in waist-deep water
In a recent Newsweek column, Winter recounts the events of the fateful day two years ago.
She wrote that she was ‘about to close out my junior year at high school and take all my exams.
‘I had an Ariana Grande concert coming up that I was super excited about, I had just gotten a boyfriend and turned 17,’ she recalled. ‘But sometimes life just gets you.’
She said she was talking to her sister and her sister’s friend that morning ‘saying how crazy it would be if we got caught by a rip current.
‘We didn’t know that something way crazier was about to happen.’
Winter said she had flipped over pretending to be a mermaid when she felt something grab at her foot.
At first, she previously told Good Morning America, she had assumed it was her brother or sister playing a prank.
She said she realized something was wrong when she felt a ‘snapping’ sensation.
‘I’m like, ‘Is this, like, a snapping turtle? Like, what’s happening?”‘ she said in the 2019 interview. ‘Then it just starts. Like a dog [when] they get a rope and you grab the other rope and they just start going with their whole body.’
Paige had assumed it was her brother or sister playing a prank when she was first bitten
Winter said in a recent interview she told her dad not to be mad at the shark
‘For a minute, I was positive I was going to die, so I made my peace,’ she recalled in the Newsweek column. ‘I remember thinking that I had a great family, a great boyfriend, that I’d had a good run.
‘But then these thoughts made me realize I should probably get out of this situation.
‘I reached into the shark’s mouth and tried to pull it off my leg,’ she said.
‘I remember feeling all of the tendons in my hand snapping.
‘Unfortunately I remembered when it was to late I was supposed to punch the shark in the nose, but I was sure my dad would come and get me
‘I was right, thankfully,’ she said, and ‘when we got back to the beach I had Ariana Grande’s song “Breathin'” in my head as I lay on the sand. I knew I needed to keep breathing.’
Eventually, she said: ‘I turned gray, but there was no pain. I felt the way TV static looks.’
Winter was then put on a boogie board, carried off the beach and airlifted to a hospital, where she spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit, eventually getting her leg amputated and undergoing multiple surgeries on her arms.
One month after she got a prosthetic leg, she said, she started her senior year of high school.
‘The friends I already had were awesome and when I first got back to school everyone was really nice to me.
‘Later, a bunch of freshmen and sophomores made a lot of assumptions about me saying that I was getting special privileges. My attitude was: I have a disability, so what do you want me to do?’
Her father, who stayed by her side as she recovered, punched the bull shark in the face five times until it let go of her leg
Winter, right, has since become an advocate for sharks, and is planning to study the environment after she receives her cosmetology license
She said she has been back to the sea once, even once venturing back to the beach at Fort Macon State Park, dipping her toes in the water, but prefers to use a pool these days.
‘I’m not mad at the bull shark that attacked me, it might have had a bad day too,’ Winter wrote. ‘Sometimes I like to imagine sharks going to a big shark reunion and reminiscing about when some guy, like my dad, hit them in the face.’
‘I don’t think we should be mad at a shark for being in its environment and reacting to something else that enters the environment,’ she continued, adding that after she gets her cosmetology license and ‘establishes a steady income,’ she would like to go back to school and study the environment.
‘Everything is still available to me,’ she said. ‘It’s just a little different now.’
‘Shark Attack Investigation: The Paige Winter Story’ is set to premiere on July 12 at 10 p.m. on the National Geographic channel.