IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

13-year-old recalls punching shark during vicious attack at Florida beach

Ella Reed fought off a bull shark while swimming in Fort Pierce, Florida, and then FaceTimed her brother for help.
/ Source: TODAY

A 13-year-old girl bravely fended off a shark in the waters off of Fort Pierce, Florida, and is recovering after the attack left her with bites on her torso, arm, finger and knee.

Ella Reed lives across the street from the beach, but found herself face to face with what she believes was a bull shark for the first time on Thursday.

"I remember just breathing really heavily, and then when it latched on to my stomach, not being able to breathe at all because I was just like, 'What the heck is happening?'" Reed said on TODAY.

The rising eighth grader said she blocked the shark with her arm after she felt it bite her stomach. She then said she yelled for her friend swimming nearby to head for safety — before fighting the shark off again.

"It bit me in the stomach first. And right as it bit me in the stomach, I shoved my arm where it was biting me so it didn’t get my stomach and it got my arm instead," Reed said. "Then I hit it with my other hand, like hit its nose or its face."

Ella Reed received stitches in her torso and leg after a shark attack in the waters near her Florida home last week.
Ella Reed received stitches in her torso and leg after a shark attack in the waters near her Florida home last week.TODAY

Reed said she got out of the water and FaceTimed her brother to get help, as she didn't think her mother was home. Her mother, Devin Reed, said on TODAY she initially didn't think her daughter was being serious.

"At first I thought she was joking actually, and then she says, 'I'm not joking!' And she took the camera and she panned it on her body, and I kind of just froze and freaked out," she said. "Her first thing was to tell her friend to run, not ask for help. She was saving her friend."

Her mother said she ran outside as the 13-year-old was coming up from the beach on a golf cart, and immediately got her into a car and drove her to the fire department.

"I thought that would be much quicker and better for her, to get her in the best hands as quick as possible," she said. "And then they took her to the E.R."

Her daughter ended up with 19 stitches in all, five on her torso and 14 on her leg.

Ella Reed said it is hard to sleep after the incident, but she's not letting the attack stop her from returning to the beach and pursuing her dreams of becoming a marine biologist.

Her mother added her daughter is proud of her scars.

"She's like, 'If I went through it, I'm going to show people,'" Devin Reed said. "No, she will not let me help her with those scars whatsoever."