Alexandria woman survives Florida beach shark attack

Kathy Garringer and Mark Collett. (WTHR photo)
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ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WTHR) - Soaking up Florida's sun, sand and surf, an Alexandria woman never imagined she would be attacked by a shark.

Scared to death and bleeding, she ran from the water to her fiancé, who rushed her to the ER last Sunday.

Watching Kathy Garringer walking down the street, it's hard to believe that just 5 days earlier, a shark took a bite out of her foot.

'I am actually doing pretty good," she said. "I really am, considering I could have lost my whole foot and my toes."

Garringer and her fiancée', Mark Collett, were vacationing on a Jacksonville, Florida beach. She was jumping the waves.

"As I was coming down, I felt the clamp on my foot and started screaming 'I've been bit, something bit me!'"

Then she saw the shark's dorsal fin.

She was afraid the shark would return.

"Yes, so I was running as fast as I could in the water, falling down," she said.

At first, Collett couldn't believe it.

"Once she came up out of the water, I saw the blood," Collett said. "I was convinced."

At the hospital, the ugly wounds were sewn up with 28 stitches.

In the same area last month, a shark tried to bite off a surfer's arm.

"If it really wanted me, it would have done even more damage. I wouldn't have an arm." he told reporters.

While sharks are making headlines more frequently, the number of unprovoked attacks around the world is actually declining. The International Shark Attack File verified 88 unprovoked attacks in 2017, 66 last year and only about 30 so far this year.

Garringer and Collett have enjoyed the beaches all their lives.

"I've never had the fear of being attacked by a shark," Garringer said.

We asked if she would get in the water if she was at the beach right now.

"No, no," she answered with a big laugh.

Garringer knows she was incredibly lucky. So lucky that a friend suggested she buy a lottery ticket. She did. And she won $90.

Humor is apparently good medicine.


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