A woman has opened up about her terrifying experience of being attacked by a shark — with her ‘smacking’ the predator in the face to get away.
Heather West, 35, from Montgomery, Texas, shared her shocking story in a series of now-viral videos on TikTok, where her first clip has been viewed more than 16 million times
She was visiting Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida with some fellow adventure buffs in January, but the trip descended into chaos when they decided to take a dip in the water.
Heather West, 35, from Montgomery, Texas, detailed her recent shark attack in a series of now-viral TikTok stories, saying she felt like she was in the movie Jaws
West admitted that she thought she had lost her foot after the 6-foot shark clamped down on her flipper while she was in the water
While her friends lingered on the shore nearby, West was filming in the ocean when she suddenly ‘sensed danger.’ Moments later, she was in the shark’s grip.
‘A voice in my head said, “Get out now,”‘ West told Jam Press. ‘The second I was facing the beach I felt something grab me by my ankle.
‘Even though just seconds before I saw all the guys on the beach, my brain still couldn’t comprehend what was happening, and I thought one of them grabbed me to scare me.
‘I remember thinking how strong they were. It felt like my ankle was in a vice grip and it was so strong… I just sat there waiting for it to let go.’
West then felt a ‘massive jerk’ on her leg and realized it was a shark that was attacking her.
The attack took place in January while she was visiting Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida with some fellow adventure buffs
West said she thought one of her friends had grabbed her at first, but then she felt a ‘massive jerk’ on her leg and realized it was a shark that was attacking her
West started kicking the shark, but her flippers got in the way. It wasn’t until she punched the predator in the face that it let her go, and her friends were able to drag her to safety
‘As it was dragging me through the water, I knew I was on my own and I needed to fight back if I wanted any chance at surviving,’ she recalled.
‘I flipped over on my back, with my leg still facing the opposite direction, and started kicking at his face with my good leg.’
West explained that she had flippers on and ‘couldn’t get the propulsion [she] needed to give him a good smack in the face.’
“I was so mad that I used him as leverage and sat up in the water, screaming, “You motherf****r!” while punching down into the water at his face with both fists — and that’s when he decided to let go.’
Once free, West, who thought her foot was gone, yelled to her friends for help, while also bracing herself in case she got attacked again.
West recalled how she had though her foot was gotten, saying: ‘I looked down and saw it still attached and started screaming, “I can’t believe I won!”‘
After describing the predator, two locals identified it as a 6-foot lemon shark that had been circling around and attacking birds for some time
West was taken to a nearby island before being put on a charter plane to Lower Keys Medical Center in Stock Island, Florida
‘Blood was filling the water and I couldn’t see where he went,’ she said. ‘I felt like I was in a Jaws movie at that moment.’
West’s friends eventually dragged her by her arms to the beach, and one of them made a tourniquet, applying pressure to the wound on her foot, while another person tried to find help.
Meanwhile, adrenaline and shock kicked in.
‘At this point, I still thought my foot was gone,’ she said. ‘I looked down and saw it still attached and started screaming, “I can’t believe I won!”
‘I was really happy afterwards. I just felt so grateful to be alive,’ she shared. ‘I wasn’t upset or crying at all. I just kept saying, “Wow, that was a wild ride!”‘
After describing the predator, two locals identified it as a 6-foot lemon shark that had been circling around and attacking birds for some time.
West claimed it took three and a half hours for her to get assistance after being told the staff was ‘too busy’ to treat her
West said she started cleaning out the wound herself, which was extremely painful
West was then visited by a doctor who checked the wound and said he would return later
West was taken to a nearby island before being put on a charter plane to Lower Keys Medical Center in Stock Island, Florida.
A group of healthcare workers was waiting for her on arrival, but West alleged that it took three and a half hours for her to get assistance.
She also claimed that she was told the staff was ‘too busy,’ which led her to start treating herself.
‘I went back over to the bed and started slowly removing my bandaging and cleaning up the area around the wound,’ she said. ‘
At this point, I still had not received anything for pain and this process was extremely painful.’
‘It was obvious by just looking at my foot that my tendons were torn if not severed and the ligaments in my ankle were torn,’ she said
West alleged she was give 18 stitches and sent home, saying the treatment she received at the hospital was worse than the shark attack
West’s foot swelled and turned black and blue as it started to heal following the attack
West was then visited by a doctor who checked the wound and said he would return later. She was eventually given 18 stitches.
However, she was unhappy with the treatment she received in the hospital and claimed to have been released while still in need of medical attention.
‘It was obvious by just looking at my foot that my tendons were torn if not severed and the ligaments in my ankle were torn,’ she said.
‘[In my opinion], no one cared. What they did to me was truly the most traumatic part of the day — worse than the actual attack.’
West said she has been left with permanent damage to her foot, but despite the horrific ordeal, she was back in the water just four weeks after the attack.
The shark’s teeth left visible entry marks on the back of her injured foot
West has claimed that she has been left with permanent damage to her right foot
But despite the horrific ordeal, she was back in the water just four weeks after the attack
DailyMail.com has reached out to Lower Keys Medical Center for comment.
Thousands of TikTok users have commented on West’s videos, many of whom were enthralled by her incredible story.
‘LOOK AT THE PULSING IN THE FIRST CLIP,’ one person wrote, while another added: ‘Man you are so lucky, someone was watching over you.’
‘Nail polish matching the blood – fancy,’ someone else joked.
One viewer even admitted to being somewhat jealous, explaining: ‘This is the kind of shark attack I want where it’s enough of a story to tell but in the grand screen I’m chilling.’