17-Year-Old Girl to Have Leg Amputated After 'Horrific Shark Attack' at North Carolina Beach
A 17-year-old girl is in recovery after surviving a “horrific shark attack” at a North Carolina beach on Sunday, in an incident her loved ones say could cost the teen one of her legs.
Police responded to the incident at Atlantic Beach around noon and found the victim suffering “deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic, and hand areas,” a spokesperson for the Atlantic Beach Fire Department tells PEOPLE in a statement. The department would not release the victim’s name, but Vidant Health has identified the victim as Paige Winter of New Bern, reported ABC affiliate WPDE.
“A family day spent at the beach ended with a horrific shark attack,” reads a GoFundMe page set up for Winter’s family. “A 17-year-old girl would have her life completely turned upside down. Due to the severity of the attack, amputation of the left leg above the knee was inevitable.”
A department spokesperson says that although authorities are not yet able to confirm a shark was involved, “the injuries are consistent with the severity of a shark bite.”
One witness, Lacy Whorton, told NBC News that “everybody started screaming” when the attack happened, and lifeguards quickly pulled Winter from the water. Whorton added that she frequently visits the beach but has “never seen anything like this.”
Winter was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center and was in “good” condition as of late Sunday, according to ABC News. Vidant officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
“Per Marcy Winter (Paige’s Mom) Paige is out of surgery and awake, she’s still pretty groggy but cracking jokes,” reads a GoFundMe page, which has reached more than $6,000 in donations. “She wants everyone to know that Sharks are still good people.”
The hospital released a statement on behalf of the family, in which Winter shares her love for marine life.
“Her family expresses their appreciation for the first responders, the individuals on the beach who helped and her heroic father who saved her life,” the statement reads, according to ABC News.
“Despite this unfortunate circumstance, Paige is an unwavering advocate for the marine life and the animals who live in the water. She wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety.”
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Officials with New Bern High School — where Winter is a junior — sent well-wishes to the teen in a Facebook statement.
“Our Bear Family is keeping one of our own, Paige Winter (Junior), in our thoughts and prayers today,” the post states. “Her positivity and strength are already showing as she recovers.”
Winter’s family did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.