Paige Winter is a North Carolina teenager who lost a leg and two fingers in a shark attack in June 2019 when she was swimming at a local beach with her family. Despite all that she’s been through, she has a remarkably positive outlook and she wants everyone to know she doesn’t blame the shark.
Paige Told Her Dad Not to Be Mad At the Shark
In an interview with 20/20 anchor Robin Roberts, Paige’s dad Charlie, a paramedic who fought the shark off of his daughter and carried her to shore, said that one of the first things Paige told him after the attack was not to blame the shark.
“Don’t be mad at that shark. It’s just a shark, doing its shark thing,” he recalled her saying on the ambulance ride to the hospital.
And Paige’s doctor, Dr. Nicole Garcia of the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, told Roberts that when she told Paige she was going to have to amputate her leg, Paige said, “OK. Can I get a really cool prosthetic?”
And to Roberts, Paige said she’s glad it was her who got attacked — for a very practical reason.
“I’m very happy that I was the one who got bit. I hate thinking about it, right? But if it was my dad, I would not have been able to help and he would have died,” said Paige.
She added that this incident caused her to learn more about sharks and that humor really helped her cope with the whole ordeal.
“I didn’t do something directly to the shark, but I was in his water. That’s his house … Joking about it has made it not quite as dark a place. It has genuinely really helped me through this whole process. I feel like if I just sat down and moped about not having a leg, that would be more of a setback than it already was.”
Paige Was Conscious Throughout the Attack
Paige recalled the attack for Roberts, saying she was “really aware” of what was happening and that she never lost consciousness. “My body went into shock, so I couldn’t really feel anything, I just knew it was bad,” she added.
“I turned around and that was it, she was under the water. You could tell where she was because you could see pink on the water, that’s where I dove in and I grabbed her … after I pulled her up, you could see the shark come up right with her. He was staring at me sideways, just the biggest blackest eye,” recounted Charlie.
He also said that Paige was so calm that it unnerved him. He was sure it was her last few minutes on earth, so he just wanted to “hold her hand and tell her I loved her over and over because if you weren’t going to be around for another five minutes, I wanted the last thing that you knew was how much I love you.”
20/20 airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT and also occasionally airs special broadcasts like the Paige Winter special.