Jessica Vaughn, 22, of Coral Springs, Florida, suffered a sizable gash on her right leg ofter being grabbed by a suspected 4-foot-long Bull Shark while swimming in the Intracoastal Waterway.
Vaughn and several friends were tubing and swimming about a mile from the Port Everglades entrance to the ICW in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on June 4. After mustering the courage to join her boyfriend in the tube, Vaughn strapped on a life vest and jumped into the brownish water of the ICW.
"She barely made it to the tube when she felt something hit her face. She didn't know what it was," boyfriend Peter Hogge told the Sun-Sentenial. "Then she looked down at her leg and knew there was a problem."
Vaughn's friends pulled her out of the water to find a crescent-shaped bite mark exposing bone and muscle on her lower right leg.
"It came up from behind her and bit her leg and then kind of smacked its tail and most of its body out of the water, hit her in the face actually, and took off," Hogge told WPLG.
Thinking quickly, Vaughn's friends applied pressure and bandages to her wounds until a nearby resident of the area called 911. She was later admitted to Broward Health Medical Center where doctors reported she suffered no permanent or nerve damage and should make a full recovery within four months. The Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department is crediting her friends fast actions with saving Vaughn's life.
"I've always had feelings of something down under there because of the dark murky waters," Vaughn said at a press conference from the Broward Health Medical Center Monday, according to ABC News. "Before we went out, I said I don't like going into the water... when I can't see what's down there."
Though shark attacks are rare away from salty ocean water, experts speculate the Bull Shark followed the 2-foot tide into the brackish waters of the ICW thanks to the close proximity of the Port Everglade Outlet. Florida lead the nation in 2013 with 23 shark attacks, none of which were fatal.
"It's one of those rare things that happen. No matter what you do, you can't prevent everything," Stephen Kajiura, associate professor of biology at Florida Atlantic University said. "There's nothing wrong [that] the woman did. She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. People don't need to change their behavior because of one rare occurrence."