In June 2019, North Carolina teenager Paige Winter was attacked by a shark while swimming with her family on Atlantic Beach off the coast of North Carolina’s Fort Macon State Park. Her father’s heroism in fighting off the shark is what saved her life. Ahead of the 20/20 special about the incident, here’s what you need to know about what Charlie Winter did to keep his daughter alive.
Charlie Winter Said He Knew Where His Daughter Was Because He ‘Could See Pink on the Water’
In the interview with ABC News anchor Robin Roberts, Paige recalled the attack, saying, “I start struggling … I reach down underwater and I try to pry it off of me and I remember giving up for a second and I just start laying there. And my dad pulls me out of the water.”
Her father, Charlie, a local firefighter and paramedic, told Roberts that he thought his daughter was dead because there was so much blood.
“I was scared. I thought this was it, I thought she was dead,” said Charlie. “You could tell where she was because you could see pink on the water. And I ran and I dove under and I brought her up. She was losing so much blood and there was this huge shark. It had this eye, this black eye that was just staring and there was nothing in it, it was just black. I knew if I did nothing, she was gone. I kept saying, ‘I got you, I got you, I got you.’
Charlie started punching the shark to make it let go of his daughter.
“I just started to hit it and I hit it, man, I hit it so hard, so many times and I remember thinking, ‘You’re gonna take her, you’re trying to take her and you can’t have her, I know you can’t have her.'”
As her dad brought her to shore, her brother “saw her leg completely torn apart” and Charlie said that Paige’s skin was gray from loss of blood and that her left leg was “pretty much gone.”
In the interview with Roberts, Paige said, “I start struggling … I reach down underwater and I try to pry it off of me and I remember giving up for a second and I just start laying there. And my dad pulls me out of the water.”
Paige Has a Remarkably Positive Outlook on Life
Paige, who lost her left leg and two fingers in the attack, told Roberts that while she’s still Paige, she’s “not really able to do all the things [she] used to do” and sometimes it gets the better of her.
“Sometimes I freak out because I don’t have a leg anymore,” admitted the teenager. “But then I’m like, ‘But now I have a really cool [prosthetic] leg’ and then I feel better.”
Her father added that her positive attitude is contagious, saying, “If she’s gonna be as tough as she is and she’s gonna have the outlook she has, then why shouldn’t I? You see her and she’s got this smile on her face. That’s how she’s responding. You don’t know what your kids are gonna do until they’re faced with something. It’s crazy.”
Paige doesn’t want to be seen as a hero but she told 20/20 that it does “feel like this could be kind of a triumph for me because people thought I was gonna die. But I’m not dead, I’m very much alive.”
20/20 airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT and also occasionally airs special broadcasts like the Paige Winter special.