Destin, Fla. - On Sunday afternoon, officials received a phone call about a possible shark bite. Caitlyn Taylor, 17, suffered six puncture wounds from a shark bite. Caitlyn was able to punch the shark driving it away.
"The initial report was that she was okay. The ambulance came on the scene and took her away to Fort Walton Beach, so that was the initial report," said Scott Hamblin, General Manager of SunDestin.
Emergency personnel said Caitlyn had wounds on her left leg and puncture wounds on the right leg near the knee. Caitlyn's mother told us she has been through a lot but is a survivor.
"She is pretty zonked from all of the meds, and from all of the stitches. She has about 120-140 stitches on both legs," explained Tracey Taylor, mother of Caitlyn.
Witnesses say a 5-foot shark bit Caitlyn while she was in waist deep water around 3:39 p.m. at the SunDestin Beach Resort and Hotel. The witnesses said they knew something was wrong when helicopters kept circling.
"It just kept circling and circling, then the second one came and then it was circling. Then it would go low. I was like, they need to get out of the water. So, we knew something was going on. Then, as people were going by and coming from the way where the girl was, they said shark," explained Kelley Fogg and Alyssa Windley.
Caitlyn told officials, at first, she thought it was a dolphin. It bit down on her legs, tugged on her and immediately let her go.
"She said she turned to swim back to shore and she said she felt it just grab her and lift her off of the bottom and push her. She was able to turn around. She used her hands to fight it off," said Taylor.
In the moments after the attack, things looked dire.
"The guy in the ambulance, he told her that just being strong and having the muscle in her leg, that pretty much saved her main arteries and the veins in her legs. That kept her leg from having to be amputated," said Taylor about her daughter. "She is strong in both her body and in her mind. You know, I'm so proud of her."
Caitlyn, who was in town for a softball tournament, has the support of her family, friends and teammates to help her recover.
"I just look at her now and think, 'Oh my God, it could have been so much different.' I thank God that I still have my daughter with me," said Taylor.
The type of shark that attacked the teen is still undetermined. Caitlyn's mother says she is not ready to talk about the incident but is in good spirits.
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