Atlanta — Paige Winter stood in waist-deep water when a shark pounced three feet from her father Charlie Winter, a firefighter and former Marine. The 17-year-old suffered severe injuries from the attack earlier this month at North Carolina’s Fort Macon State Park.

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“I turned to where Paige was and there was no Paige,” her father said. “Paige was underwater, but there was pink on the water. I went straight to where the pink was and I dove under and I grabbed her. When I pulled her up a shark came up with her — it was a big shark and I immediately started to hit it. I hit it with everything I could and it let go.”

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But Paige was the real fighter. Both her hands were mauled trying to pry open the shark’s jaws. Her left leg had to be amputated, thigh-high.

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Paige Winter

Paige Winter

Unprovoked shark attacks like this are rare. There were 66 of them worldwide last year, and four fatalities. But even more rare is Paige’s attitude: no screaming, no crying and no self-pity.

“I want people to see I’m doing alright and you know, I’m still going to do the stuff they can do. I think I can transform this into something good for me, good for sharks and good for the environment too,” she said.

Paige’s father said he “couldn’t be prouder.”

“The shark took her leg. It did not take her spirit,” he said.

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