ABC National News

June 02, 2014 at 3:39 PM
Florida Woman Bit by Shark and Slapped by Fin
ABC News

 

(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman attacked by a shark said on Monday that before she got into the water she told her friends she was uneasy about getting into the dark water "because you can't see what's down there."

What was down there was a shark that ripped into her leg and then swatted her in the face with its fin.

Jessica Vaughn, 22, of Coral Springs, Florida, was attacked Sunday afternoon, but was well enough on Monday to smile through a news conference and even joke about it.

She probably won't get back into the ocean soon, however.

"It was really scary. Before we went out, I said I don’t like going into the water...when I can’t see what’s down there," Vaughn said at the Broward Health Medical Center. She added, "I've always had feelings of something down under there because of the dark murky waters."

Vaughn said, "I feel very lucky. I wouldn't go back in that kind of water anymore."

She was going tubing with friends at the home of Peter Hogge around 1:30 p.m. Sunday. She said she was swimming on her back in the tube when she was attacked by the shark.

"At first I felt like something punched my leg," Vaughn said. "I thought a fish bit me. Then I saw my leg was cut open. I realized it wasn't a fish."

"I thought I would be fine once I get into the tube," Vaughn said.

"It came up from behind her and bit her leg and then kind of smacked its tail and most of its body out of the water, hit her in the face actually, and took off," Hogge told ABC News affiliate WPLG-TV.

“Her friends immediately pulled her back on the boat and bandaged her,” Heiser told ABC News. The deputy chief said Vaughn's friends likely saved her life by putting pressure on her gash.

“They did a really good job,” Heiser said. "She could have lost too much blood and died."

Vaughn's friends raced the boat back to a dock where a person on the 11th floor of a nearby condo building heard them screaming and called 911, according to Heiser. Paramedics arrived shortly after and brought Vaughn to Broward Health Medical Center.

A picture of Vaughn's wound was tweeted by the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue and it showed the muscle of Vaughn’s right leg was shredded, exposing the bone. Vaughn underwent two hours of surgery Sunday evening and is reported to be in good condition, according to the hospital.

"She will be discharged from the hospital in two to three days," said Dr. Zoran Potparic, who performed Vaughn's surgery.

Vaughn is expected to recover within three to four months, Potparic said.

"Infection is the very next thing we have to worry about, especially since the coastal water tends to be very polluted," he said.

Vaughn said she is a waitress at a restaurant and doesn't have insurance. She is thankful that social workers at the hospital are looking to see if the Affordable Care Act could cover some of her surgery costs.

"Shark attacks usually happen in northern Florida," Heiser said. "It's quite uncommon in this area."

“This is really the first shark attack that I’ve ever heard of,” said Brian Hogge, Peter Hogge’s cousin who directed Vaughn to the dock. “I’ve seen sharks before and there are a lot of water skiing activities going on. But this is really the first time (a shark attack happened).”

Peter Hogge has set up a fundraiser on Gofundme.org to raise money for his friend’s recovery.


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