Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Charlie Winter, the father of Paige Winter, said he was swimming with his daughter at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina on June 2.
At one point — after other teenagers swimming near them began shouting “Shark!” and “Get her!” — he noticed a five-foot trail of pink blood in the water.
Winter said he immediately dove down, grabbing Paige while simultaneously pulling what is now thought to be a bull shark out of the water.
"It was a big shark ... I immediately started to hit it," he said. "I don't know how many times I punched it, but I hit it with everything I could and it let go."
Winter said the creature chased him “at arm’s length” until he reached the shore with his daughter.
Winter, a former paramedic, said he applied pressure to the teen’s badly injured left leg, which was later amputated. Two of Paige's fingers on her left hand were also removed following the attack.
In the struggle, Winters added that his daughter had been attempting to pry open the shark's mouth with her hands. Afterward, he said she was calm and just kept repeating the word, "dad," as he carried her to safety.
"She's a tough little thing," he said of Paige.
Attacks like this are rare, according to Eric Toschlog, chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at Vidant Medical Center. He was one of the doctors who treated Paige.
"I have not seen a wound of this severity, ever," Toschlog said, adding that there are usually only two or three attacks off North Carolina every year.
According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a research organization that tracks shark bite reports worldwide, there were a total of 32 unprovoked shark attacks in the United States in 2018, making up 48 percent of the worldwide total. The number was down from 53 attacks in 2017.
Following the attack, Paige — who, according to her doctors, should complete physical therapy and rehabilitation within six to 12 months — later issued a statement through Vidant Medical Center in Greenville thanking people for helping her.
"Although I have extensive injuries, including an amputated leg and damage to my hands, I will be okay," she said. "I will continue to stay positive and be thankful that it was not worse."
The hospital described the teen as "an unwavering advocate" for marine life, and says she "wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety."
Even Paige herself, in a video released by the medical center, said that she still has respect for marine life — including sharks.
"Sharks are still good people and that's just kind of the truth, they're still so good and they're so cool," she said.
Fox News' Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed this report.