Ten-year-old Kaley Szarmack was playing the waters close to shore in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon. As she was making her way out of the surf, a reportedly 3-foot-long shark took a bite out of her leg. This did not stop the young girl from turning around and going back into the ocean to save her 6-year-old friend who was still playing in the water.
Ocean Rescue Capt. Rob Emahiser told station WJXT-TV in Jacksonville that the girl appeared to have a 4- to 5-inch gash on two sides of her leg below the knee. Emahiser said members of the family took the shark attack victim to a nearby residence, where lifeguards and firefighters met them and rushed the young girl to the hospital. The ocean rescue captain said he hopes the girl makes a full recovery.
“She got bit on the right leg,” said Kaley’s father, Dave Szarmack, to WJXT-TV. “She said she felt it and she turned around and she could see the shark and she could see the fin flailing around. She turned and yelled to her friend get out of the water! It’s a shark!”
“She walked herself out of the ocean and she realized that the 6-year-old was still in the water,” said the girl’s father, “so she turned around and went back and got the 6-year-old and took her out of the water. It’s emotional, but she pulled the little girl out of the water.”
Rescuers estimated the time of the shark attack to be around 3 p.m. The 6-year-old friend was unharmed.
ABC News reported that Kaley was rushed to the hospital after the shark attack with several large lacerations. The girl’s father, Szarmack, a Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department firefighter, told reporters that his daughter was taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where the girl received 90 stitches. Firefighters said the girl was standing in about to 4 feet of water when she was reportedly bitten by the shark, which her mother guessed to be about 3 feet long.
The 6-year-old girl was not harmed thanks to having a brave friend like Kaley.
“I’m just so proud of her, and just so thankful that she’s doing so well,” Szarmack said. “Kaley is doing awesome. She had about an hour-long surgery. She is recovering great. The surgeons were very pleased with how things came together. She had about 90 stitches. 90 stitches!”
The shark took a huge bite out of the brave girl’s leg but according to Jacksonville Channel 4’s Vic Micolucci, who visited Kaley Szarmack in the hospital, she is in strong spirits and doing well. A shark bite would be terrifying for anyone, but Kaley was brave enough to go back in the ocean to save a friend. Dave Szarmack said Kaley will “be fine” and back out in the water in no time.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]