VERO BEACH (CBSMiami) — A woman attacked by a shark off the coast of Vero Beach remains hospitalized a day after undergoing surgery for severe injuries from the shark.
Police say the 47-year-old German tourist, Karin Ulrike Stei, was swimming off Vero Beach Wednesday afternoon when she was bitten. According to police, she was swimming in waist-deep water about 30 yards from shore.
A lifeguard pulled her out of the water.
“She screamed, I looked up. And obviously, there was a bunch of blood around her,” said lifeguard Eric Toomsoo.
Beachgoers said it looked like the shark took almost her entire leg in just a single bite.
“She was the only one in the water. You could see her backpedaling, and then you just see a black cloud forming around her. And by the time she screamed again, we pretty much knew,” said witness Michael Curran. “I started calling 911 as they dragged her onto the sand. Just saw, real bad shark bite,” explained Curran.
The shark bit her left thigh, cutting a 12-inch laceration through to the bone.
“It was from a foot above her knee to half her calf was just gone. It wasn’t like it was still there. It was just gone,” said witness Scott Weston.
She’s being cared for at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce.
Lifeguards say the attack is a rare occurrence.
Shark attacks in the U.S. actually declined in 2011, according to a University of Florida International Shark Attack File report released in February. It states the U.S., had 29 shark attacks but no deaths, and of those, 11 were in Florida.
Historically, there are more shark attacks off Florida shores than anywhere else in the U.S.
Volusia County leads the state. In 2011, there were six attacks off Volusia County, the lowest since 2004.