The North Carolina teenager who had to get her leg amputated after being attacked by a shark over the weekend said Monday she has a long recovery ahead, but still has respect for marine life -- even sharks.
High school junior Paige Winter, 17, issued a statement through Vidant Medical Center in Greenville thanking people for helping her following the attack at Fort Macon State Park on Sunday.
"Although I have extensive injuries, including an amputated leg and damage to my hands, I will be okay," she said.
Winter added that, while she has a long road to recovery ahead of her, including additional surgeries, she is keeping focused on the future, even while thanking doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital for their care.
"I will continue to stay positive and be thankful that it was not worse," she said.
The hospital described the teen as "an unwavering advocate" for marine life, and says Winter "wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety."
On a GoFundMe page set up to cover her medical costs, Paige's mother Marcy Goodrum Winter said she was still "pretty groggy but cracking jokes."
The incident happened around 12:20 p.m. at Fort Macon State Park, located near Atlantic Beach. The Atlantic Beach Fire Department told WCTI-TV the 17-year-old girl had "severe injuries" to her leg and hands, including "deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic, and hand areas."
Winter's grandmother, Janet Winter, shared on Facebook the 17-year-old's father punched the shark in the face five times before it let go.
Park Ranger Paul Terry told WRAL that the water was murky at the time of the incident, and no one is currently allowed in the water at Fort Macon. Officials are not yet sure what type of shark was involved and are awaiting further information from specialists and marine biologists.
Last year, a 14-year-old surfer was bitten by a shark at Atlantic Beach, according to WRAL.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.