July 26, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

UPDATE: Young victim and her parents share
the story of shark attack on Ocracoke


Sitting in a wheel chair with a colorful bandage from her right knee to toe, 6-year-old Lucy Mangum expressed no fear or anger toward a shark that mangled the leg while she was swimming at Ocracoke last week.

“He didn’t mean to do it,” she said. “I tried to swim away.”

But she also told her parents at one point, “I should have kicked him in the nose.”

Lucy and her parents, Jordan and Craig Mangum of Durham, described the harrowing attack during a news conference at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, where the girl has been treated. Joining the family were doctors who said both Lucy and the Outer Banks beaches should be able to recover from the incident that attracted national attention.

Jordan Mangum said Lucy, her father, and other children rode the ferry from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke on Tuesday, July 19, to play at their favorite Ocracoke beach. They had been on the beach a couple of hours with the children playing on boogie boards in shallow surf when she heard Lucy scream.

“I turned and immediately saw a shark, and it was shocking to me in itself,” she said, adding that her instinct was to run over to get the girl out of the water.

She did not realize at first that Lucy had actually been bitten but then saw her right leg which was “completely open” from calf to ankle.

She cupped the wounds with her hand and called to her husband, who is an emergency physician.

Craig Mangum, who works at Wake Medical Center and occasionally at the Outer Banks Hospital, said he knew the wound was significant and would require more than one surgery.   

Hyde County Emergency Medical Services personnel, who treated the girl on the beach, called for the EastCare helicopter to transport her to the hospital in Greenville, which is a regional trauma center. 

He said the helicopter ambulance arrived on the island within 35 minutes and had the patient at the hospital in another 35.

Jordan Mangum said she could see part of the shark and estimated it was 4 or 5 feet long.  She said she heard from others that it was probably a black-tip shark.

The Mangums said Lucy was very aware of what was going on around her. 

Her father said that she asked, “Am I going to be in a wheelchair? Am I going to walk again? Am I going to die?”

Her mother said Lucy was excited but not unduly frightened. She told medical staff, “This is the first time I’ve ever been bitten by a shark.” 

Nor did the helicopter flight alarm her, except when it landed.

Her mother said she asked, “Who’s driving this thing?”

Doctors said Lucy suffered extensive damage to muscle, ligaments, and blood vessels but luckily avoided major nerve damage.

Dr. Richard  Zeri, associate professor  and chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at  the East Carolina University Medical School at Pitt Memorial, said, the case was the first shark attack his staff had treated. He noted that  the staff treats hundreds of  dog bites.

Zeri said his young patient was remarkably calm during her ordeal.

“I haven’t seen a single tear she shed,” he said.

Lucy, wearing a bright dress wiggled and scooted around in her wheelchair while the adults talked to reporters.   She clutched stuffed animals, one of them a large blue dolphin. 

At the prodding of reporters, she said she likes dolphins better than sharks.

Zeri said there was no reason that parents should stop taking their children to enjoy the beach and the ocean.

Jordan Mangum made it clear the family had no intention of staying away.

“It’s a good ending,” she said. “She’s going to be running and dancing and twirling, just like before.”

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