A surfer received a bad gash Wednesday when a 14-foot (3.6m) shark bit her leg in the waters off northern California and pulled her underwater, authorities said.
Megan Halavais, 20, was paddling into the water off Salmon Creek Beach in Sonoma County around 11 a.m. when the shark attacked her from behind.
Halavais, an experienced surfer, said she got away after she hit the shark on its tail, according to sheriff's Lt. Roger Rude.
Halavais, of Santa Rosa, was helped from the water by other surfers. She was taken to a hospital with a bite that stretched from her thigh to her calf, Rude said. She was listed in good condition, reports the AP.
"She disappeared under the water board and all," said David Bryant, a friend who was surfing with her and rushed to help when he heard a splash and saw the shark's dorsal fin. "We thought we had lost her. It was the longest five seconds."
He said Halavais never lost consciousness or panicked.
"She did very, very well at keeping her cool," he said.
Halavais suffered two serious cuts a 6.3-inch gash on her right outer thigh and a 2.4-inch cut on her right outer calf. Both cut down to the bone, Hardin said, and the thigh injury was less than 1/2 inch from a major artery. She will undergo more surgery on Friday.
"She's very, very lucky," the surgeon said. Had the shark severed the artery, "she would have lost the leg for sure, and probably would have bled to death before she got here.''
Halavais declined to speak to the media Wednesday, as did her mother. But Bryant, and her boyfriend, John Henry, who was also surfing with her, spoke at a press conference at the hospital.
State park rangers and Sonoma County sheriff's deputies cleared the waters between Bodega Bay and Jenner of surfers, swimmers and waders after the attack, and posted signs telling people to stay out of the water. A 6-mile stretch of coastal waters from Mussel Point at Bodega Head to Coleman Beach will remain closed through Monday, informs SF Gate.
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