ATLANTIC BEACH. N.C. — A North Carolina teenager who survived a shark attack earlier this month relived the terrifying moment Tuesday morning during an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America."
In the interview Paige Winter, 17, describes the moment her father saved her life after she was attacked by a shark while swimming offshore at Fort Macon State Park near Atlantic Beach.
Paige Winter and her siblings were having fun in the sun while swimming in the waist-deep waters on June 2 when things took a turn for the worst.
The teen said she thought it was her sister or brother joking with her when she felt something pulling her under, but then she started to feel a "snapping" sensation.
"I'm like, 'Is this, like, a snapping turtle? Like, what's happening?'" she recalled. "Then it just starts. Like a dog [when] they get a rope and you grab the other rope and they just start going -- like with their whole body."
She said her body went into shock and she eventually stopped feeling pain.
"I'm like, 'I'm 17, like, please don't let me die. Like, I'm not ready to die, I have stuff to do. Like, so much,'" she said, recalling her brief conversation with God. "My body went into shock. So I couldn't feel anything, I just knew it was bad."
She said she tried prying the shark off of her, but the struggle was too overwhelming. She started to give up hope, but said she called on God and within moments, a hero came to her rescue.
The teen's father, Charlie Winter, was nearby when he said he heard other teenagers swimming with them shout, "Paige! Shark! Get her!" But when he looked in the water, he said the only thing he saw was a pink trail of blood.
That's when he grabbed his daughter out of the water and pulled the shark up with her.
"I pulled her up. You could see the shark come up right with her. And then I just immediately just start beating it with everything I could," he said. "He was just staring at me sideways, just the biggest, blackest eye piercing. It was just no negotiating with it."
Charlie Winter said he started punching the shark repeatedly, a move that may have saved his daughter's life, authorities said.
Charlie Winter finally managed to free his daughter from the shark's grip, but they weren't completely clear yet. The former paramedic said the shark followed at arm's length as he scrambled to get her to the shore.
The teen said she still remembers how she felt when her father placed her over his shoulder and brought her back to safety.
"I was like, 'Dad, please help me!' I remember being really quiet," she said. "And at one point his energy, like, dropped. He's like, 'I can't … I can't, man,' and I was like, "Yes, you can, please help me."
Paige Winter's love for her father was evident as she told "GMA" she's happy that she was the one who was bitten.
"If it was my dad, I would not have been able to help and he would have died," Paige Winter said.
(Paige Winter and her dad, Charlie Winter)
Charlie Winter said his daughter's calmness throughout the attack scared him the most because he thought he was going to lose her, but now her positivity about her circumstances is inspirational.
"If she's going to have the outlook she has, then why shouldn't I?" said Charlie Winter. "She fuels me and that's what gets me through the day."
The teen suffered deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic and hand areas and had to be airlifted to a trauma center. She lost two fingers and her left leg was amputated, but she refuses to let the attack keep her down.
She said she doesn't feel any anger toward the shark that attacked her.
"This situation has urged me to learn more about sharks," she said. "I didn't do something directly to this shark, but I was in his water. You know, that's his house."
The teen's family has set up a GoFundMe fundraising page called "Prayers For Paige" to help with the cost of her surgeries and recovery process.
The June 2 incident was one of three shark attacks in North Carolina so far this month.
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