While swimming at a North Carolina beach, a teen girl was suddenly bitten and pulled under by a hungry shark. However, as soon as her Marine veteran and firefighter father saw her aquatic attacker, he immediately sprang into action.
Although shark attacks are incredibly rare, they are also extremely deadly. So, when 17-year-old Paige Winter became the latest victim of one of the eating machines, spectators believed she couldn’t be saved. That’s when her Marine daddy stepped in.
While enjoying a day at Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach, Paige encountered every swimmer’s worst nightmare. Despite wading in waist-deep water, the teen was suddenly pulled under as a cloud of red filled the ocean around her. Horrified bystanders instantly realized that she was being eaten alive by the ocean’s most feared predator.
Although beach-goers believed that the girl was a lost cause, they had no idea who her father is. Within seconds, Marine veteran and Havelock firefighter Charlie Winter plowed through the water and began fighting the shark with his bare hands, repeatedly punching the predator until it released its hold on his daughter, according to USA Today.
“They were standing in waist-deep water and chatting and then Paige suddenly got pulled under,” close family friend Brandon Bersch said. “Charlie wouldn’t stop until it released his little girl,” Brandon said. “He lives for his children.”
Knowing how sensitive a shark’s snout is, Charlie relentless landed blow after blow on the animal’s nose, forcing it to release its bite and swim away in pain. Although her father’s heroic and quick action saved her life, she has unfortunately been left with life-altering injuries.
Being a paramedic himself, Charlie immediately recognized the seriousness of Paige’s injuries. The teen’s leg had been torn to shreds and was barely attached. She also lost several fingers and sustained severe trauma to both hands in her struggle between the shark’s powerful jaws. Fortunately, her father’s training and experience kicked in, prompting him to apply pressure to her leg while racing her back to the shoreline.
“He remained calm the entire time,” Bersch said. “Paige is alive today because of her father.”
Thanks to her father’s life-saving efforts, Paige was stabilized until paramedics could arrive and airlift her to Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center. The high school junior then received emergency surgery, including a leg amputation. Incredibly, the young woman hasn’t let her situation dampen her spirits.
Medical professionals were awestruck by Paige’s positivity through her ordeal, lauding her determination to not allow her injuries to overcome her. Despite the trauma, the teen admitted that she still loves the ocean and won’t allow the predator to scare her away from it. In fact, she was “cracking jokes” the whole time she was in recovery, saying that she wants everyone to know that “sharks are still good people.”
“Paige has more surgeries upcoming, but she’s really optimistic,” Bersch revealed. “As soon as Paige woke up at the hospital, she made a comment about how she doesn’t have animosity toward sharks and she still loves the sea.”
Of course, Paige owes her life to her father, who instinctively came to her rescue. Thankfully, he knew exactly what to do when faced with a shark attack, which is to go for the creature’s snout, eyes, or gills.
“Although I have extensive injuries, including an amputated leg and damage to my hands, I will be okay,” the courageous teen said, according to Blue Lives Matter. “I know I have a long road to recovery…I will continue to stay positive and be thankful that it was not worse.”
Of course, given his career history, this wasn’t Charlie’s first rescue. In 2013, he rushed into a burning house to save a 2-year-old boy. The home was reportedly completely engulfed in flames. As such, he received the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US National Firefighter Award.
Although we could easily point to Charlie’s extensive history with dangerous situations as the reason for his heroism, there’s nothing more powerful than a father’s love for their child. We can bet that he would have leaped into that water and tackled the shark even if he wasn’t a Marine veteran or firefighter.