Animal

Woman’s calf torn off by shark after she thought it was a fish and kicked it


Tabath Sullivent’s calf was torn off by a suspected bull shark, while her husband Cary was also injured when he pulled his wife away from the animal (Picture: Facebook)

A US woman whose calf was torn off by a shark in a terrifying attack said she had thought it was a ‘huge fish’ and kicked it.

Tabatha Sullivent was mauled by a suspected bull shark off South Padre Island, Texas on July 4 while she and her teenage daughter Skylar were in shallow water.

They were out past a sand bar when the shark began to follow them.

‘I turned around, and all I saw was something gray in the water,’ Tabatha told CBS News Texas from her hospital bed. 

‘So, I just kicked at it, because I thought it was a huge fish, and it was coming at us. That’s when I think it grabbed my leg/’

The shark sunk its teeth into her lower leg and held on..

Noticing what was happening, Tabatha’s husband jumped into the water, fought off the beast and pulled his wife away. In the process he was bitten twice.

Beachgoers helped them back to shore, before paramedics reached the scene and treated her open would. They were then both rushed to hospital.

Cary and Tabatha had to spend their 16th wedding anniversary in hospital

Tabatha said she’s lucky to be alive, adding: ‘If my husband didn’t jump into action and everyone else on the beach, if I didn’t have people pulling me out – not just to pull me out but jumping between the shark and me – I don’t think it would’ve stopped.

A video shared on social media shows the shark’s dorsal fin going and forth back in the sea, only metres away from where Tabatha is being treated on the beach.

My leg is pretty much gone,’ she told FOX Dallas-Fort Worth around a day after the attack. 

A shark close to the shore on the day Tabatha was attacked (Picture: AP)

‘They flushed it out today. It’s all the way to the bone. It did not go through the bone.’ 

Tabatha will need multiple reconstructive surgeries, but doctors are optimistic that she’ll be able to keep her leg and walk again.

She said she currently has movement in her toes and ankle and her bone structure is ‘good’.

Tabatha was pulled to shore and a tourniquet pulled around her leg as they wait for paramedics to arrive (Picture: Facebook)

The North Texas family were celebrating Skylar’s 15th birthday on the day of the mauling and had planned to toast the couple’s 16th wedding anniversary the following day. Instead they spent the day in hospital.

Writing on Facebook after the attack, Skylar said: ‘My mom is trying to get as much rest as she can and figure out the road ahead. Recovery will be a long process but I know she will get through it,’ Skylar wrote on Facebook.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help fund the couple’s recovery and has already raised nearly $25,000, just $5 from their target.

Tabatha and Carey before the mauling (Picture: Facebook)

South Padre Island and Cameron County Parks officials located the shark, harnessed it and moved it back out into deeper waters in the hope it will stay away from the beach area, KFDX-TV reported.

The animal was not harmed over the course of the operation, according to Captain Dowdy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Captain Dowdy said the ‘unusual’ attack was likely caused by weather changes from incoming Hurricane Beryl, which is set to strike the Texas coastline sometime today as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The shark swim close to the shore after the attack (Picture: X/zakisolja)

The attack comes a month after three people were mauled by sharks on the same day off Walton Beach in Florida.

The first person, a woman, suffered critical injuries on her midsection and arm, and part of her arm had to be amputated.

Less than two hours later two teenagers in waist-high water were attacked, one, Lulu Gribbin, lost a leg and a hand, while the other, McCray Faust, escaped with minor injuries to a foot.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.


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