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Paige Winter, a 17-year-old girl from North Carolina, was enjoying a family beach trip, when she was suddenly dragged under the water by a bull shark.
Now 19-years-old, Paige has relived and spoken about her traumatic experience as part of National Geographic's SharkFest show.
Paige, her elder sister Anais, and best-friend Kale were only in shallow waters, as Paige told the Mirror: "I never go out further than I can touch the floor".
"We were pretending we were mermaids", she said, adding that dad Charlie was also joking around with the teens in the water.
Paige said she: "felt something grab my ankle. I was like, 'real funny, Dad'".
It was only when she realised everyone was above the water that she thought, "'oh Jesus, it's a shark'".
Suddenly the shark pulled her under, shaking her around "'like when a dog is playing with a rope and shakes it from side to side"'.
In the chaos, Paige's lost two fingers as she tried to wrestle the shark's mouth open.
Paige has stated that she saw her "'future, all of my dreams and the things I wanted to be"', as she wrestled for her life.
Paige's father, former-marine turned firefighter, told the Mirror he "'hit it and hit it so hard, so many times"'.
"I remember thinking, 'you're trying to take her but you can't have her'".
After continuous punches, the shark ceased its attack, and Paige was rushed to hospital.
He told his daughter he loved her repeatedly, "'I probably said it 50 times'".
Paige's dad described the damage as though her leg "'had gone through a paper shredder"'.
After a five-hour operation that was no doubt gut-wrenching for the family, Paige woke up with two of her fingers and one of her legs amputated, and nerve damage in both hands.
Paige went on to fulfil her dream to study cosmetology at college and amazingly continues to love sharks.
She has said she has "'a shark blanket, shark signs on the walls. I have a salt and pepper shaker where the salt is a leg and the pepper is a shark"'.
Paige's story will be part of a series aired and created by National Geographic called Sharkfest. The series will run on Disney+ and National Geographic. Hollywood-heart-throb Chris Hemsworth features in a special episode
Paige's story explores shark behaviour and how we can help humans and sharks to co-exist peacefully for the future.
Whilst Paige has said she will stick to swimming pools, her desire to tell her story is encouraged by her wish to prevent further attacks.
Part of Paige's story sees her and her father encounter a shark for the first time since her terrifying ordeal. Paige Winter's story highlights how important familial relationships are, how resilient we (and sharks) are, and how more must be done to prevent attacks like this in the future.
Words: Oscar Rihll
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