A teenager was attacked by a 9-foot shark Thursday in Florida and suffered devastating injuries to her leg, officials said.
The teen was scalloping in 5-foot deep water at Keaton Beach on the west coast of the state when the shark attacked, according to a statement from the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office.
“A family member reportedly jumped into the water and beat the shark until the juvenile was free,” the statement said.
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare said Friday that the 17-year-old had emergency surgery to restore blood flow to her leg. A second surgery is scheduled for Saturday.
Authorities do not know what kind of shark attacked the teen.
The girl tried fighting off the shark by poking it in the eyes, but it would not let go, and her firefighter brother jumped in to help, her family said in a statement shared by the sheriff’s office.
Tallahassee Memorial said her brother and others were able to tie a tourniquet to control the bleeding until she could be transported by air to a trauma center. Other boaters in the area also helped.
On Friday, she was “in good spirits and cracking jokes about beating up the shark,” her relatives said.
Tallahassee Memorial said that the teen “has devastating damage to the soft tissue in her right leg” and has a long road to recovery.
“She is not out of the woods by any stretch, but she is alive and that’s what’s most important to us,” her family said.
The teen was airlifted to a trauma center after the attack. Tallahassee Memorial said her brother and others were able to tie a tourniquet to control the bleeding until she could be transported. Other boaters in the area also helped.
The sheriff’s office reminded swimmers and scallopers “to be alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety.”
“Never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water,” it said in the statement .
There was another possible shark attack in New York Thursday, officials there said.
A 37-year-old man was swimming at Jones Beach in Nassau County on Long Island and suffered a laceration on his foot that is being considered a possible shark bite, county police said.
Nassau County officials are increasing shark patrols for the July 4th holiday weekend, NBC New York reported Friday.