Shark attacks surfer near Carlin Park - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Shark attacks surfer near Carlin Park

By Peter Shaller - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

JUPITER, FL (WFLX) - A surfer says she won't be back out in the water. The sport she loves just isn't worth it anymore.

The 27-year-old woman is bandaged up after undergoing surgery. She says she's lucky to be alive. 

Melissa Hardcastle is always out in the water, surfing all by herself, but on this trip, she had unwanted company in the water. She has been surfing for two and half years, and this was her worst nightmare. "My whole foot was in its mouth."

Melissa was surfing Friday night, just south of Carlin Park in Jupiter, when the shark chomped on her foot. It quickly let go.

She didn't see the shark that got her; she just knows how it felt. "The pressure of the jaws, it was insane."

Adrenaline kicked in, in her head, Melissa was telling herself to stay calm; however, she was petrified. She knew she had to take one thing at a time if she wanted to save her foot. "Get on my board, limbs in, and, now I got to make it back to shore."

The four minute swim back felt like an eternity. "I kept looking back, and my foot was still attached, so I was all right."

When she got back to the beach two tourists helped her, wrapping up her mangled foot with a blanket.  They called 911.

She spent Friday night at Jupiter Medical Center where she received stitches Saturday morning. Now, she's on crutches now, doctors say, the shark left 26 puncture wounds here on her left foot. "This was the top jaw; this was the bottom jaw, and there were three scrapes where the teeth dragged."

Melissa thinks it was a spinner shark. When we flew over, spinner sharks were all over the place along local beaches. Experts say it's that time of year again -- several shark species are migrating to the South Florida coastline.

Lifeguards say most will stay about 100 yards off shore, but if you spot one head the other way. 

For Melissa, she didn't see it coming; however, when she grabbed her board that day to head out, she had bad vibes. "I had an uneasy feeling about being out there anyway."

Melissa says it's going to be months before she's all healed.  She says, for now, she can't dream of getting back out into the water.

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