A teenage girl is in serious but stable condition after being bitten by a large shark while scalloping near Keaton Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Thursday.
The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) confirmed in a statement on social media a juvenile “had sustained a shark bite while scalloping near Grassy Island in water approximately five feet deep.”
Though the type of shark has not been determined, TCSO said it was about 9 feet long.
“A family member reportedly jumped in the water and beat the shark until the juvenile was free,” TCSO said.
According to a Facebook post from the teenager’s father, the girl was bitten twice and tried “poking it in the eyes and punching it,” but the shark would not loosen its grip.
The girl’s brother, a firefighter, was with her and fought off the shark, pulled her away, and got her into a nearby boat. The brother also put a tourniquet on her leg and made sure she stayed awake while she was taken back to Keaton Beach, “ultimately saving her life,” the father said.
The girl was flown to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and underwent emergency surgery, her dad wrote.
She suffered “an unreal amount of damage” to her thigh and “the nerve on the back of the thigh was damaged severely,” he said.
“The doctors are unsure at this point as to the condition of the leg and want to take it day by day to see what will have to be done,” he added.
The girl woke up and was able to communicate with her family by typing on her phone, her dad said, adding “she was in good spirits and cracking jokes about beating up the shark.”
“The first thing she asked for was a Wendy’s frosty,” he said. “She’s been through more than I could ever imagine but she is being a trooper. Please pray for her and the difficulty of her days ahead. She isn’t out of the woods by any stretch, but she is alive and that’s what’s most important to us.”
The teenager is undergoing a second surgery Saturday morning, “to possibly repair what nerve damage they can and to also clean up any dead tissues in her thigh resulting from the shark attack,” her father said in an updated Facebook post.
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, where the girl is recovering, said in a post that Saturday’s surgery would also serve to “investigate the extent of the damage to her leg and determine what treatment options are available with the goal of saving her leg.”
“Right now we are addressing each issue day by day but the long term outlook for her leg is not good,” her father wrote. “She is a trooper, but she has an extremely long road mentally and physically ahead of her.”
CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.