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Girl, 6, on shark that bit her: ‘I forgive him’

The parents of Lucy Magnum, who were 10 feet away from her at a North Carolina beach last week when a shark bit the 6-year-old’s leg, said Tuesday that she told them: “I forgive him.” She is expected to be running and playing again in six to eight weeks.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Even though it’s been only a week since she narrowly escaped losing part of her leg and foot after a shark bit her, 6-year-old Lucy Magnum has already reached the forgiveness stage of her recovery.

After the attack, Lucy told her parents in a North Carolina hospital: “I hate sharks. I like dolphins way better.”

But when she appeared with Craig and Jordan Magnum on TODAY Tuesday as they spoke with Ann Curry from Greenville, N.C., she shyly burrowed her head in her father’s chest as her mother described her change of heart about the predator that attacked her in shallow water a week ago in Ocracoke Island, N.C.

“Last night we were chatting about it, and [Lucy] said, ‘I don’t care that the shark bit me. I forgive him,’ ’’ Jordan Magnum said with a smile.

Doctors expect Lucy to be walking, running and playing again in about six to eight weeks. “We told her as soon as the shark finds a mailbox, he’s going to send her a letter of apology,’’ Craig Magnum joked.

After all, Lucy’s parents assured her, it was just a case of mistaken identity.

“I think that we talked enough about it that this was a mistake,’’ Jordan said. “The shark didn’t want to eat her, and that’s why he just bit and left it there and swam away.’’

Attack in shallow water
The family are fortunate that they can smile now about the serious injuries Lucy received on July 19. She suffered a 90 percent tear of her calf muscle and a 90 percent tear of her Achilles’ tendon in addition to having an artery severed in the attack.

The 6-year-old was floating on her boogie board near her sister in barely a foot and a half of water when a shark about 5 feet long attacked her from behind, biting her twice. Jordan Magnum heard her daughter scream while only standing about 10 feet away in the shallow water. She immediately saw the shark fin poking out of the water as the animal faced out toward the open ocean.

When she rushed over and leaned in to pluck Lucy out of the water, she saw the plume of blood pouring out of Lucy’s lower right leg and foot. Still standing in the water, she immediately put pressure on Lucy’s leg to slow the bleeding while yelling for her husband, who was nearby.

“We both knew right away that this was pretty severe,’’ Jordan told Curry.

“Jordan did the right thing, went back to the Boy Scouts and just held direct pressure and did a great job,’’ added Craig, who is an emergency room physician. “We knew right away that this was something that was going to require some extensive surgery and some reconstruction. I didn’t know exactly the extent of the wound. I just knew when I looked at it that it was pretty significant.’’

Prognosis ‘great’
Lucy was flown directly to the hospital, where it was determined that, fortunately, she had not suffered any nerve damage, which could have necessitated amputating part of her leg and foot. She still needed so many stitches to repair the wound that doctors lost count.

“She could certainly [have] lost her leg with this type of injury,’’ Dr. Richard Zeri, who treated Lucy, told NBC News. “She was lucky.’’

Lucky indeed, Lucy is expected to make a full recovery from the attack.

“The prognosis is great,’’ her father said. “It’s going to take some time with some physical therapy, but she is going to be back and running and playing like she should, hopefully sooner than later. We’re very pleased with the prognosis at this point.’’

The incident was the fifth unprovoked shark attack in North Carolina since last summer. According to the University of Florida’s international shark file, North Carolina ranks fifth in shark attacks in the United States, behind Florida, Hawaii, California and South Carolina.

The attack on Magnum was the first at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which extends for more than 70 miles of coastline in North Carolina, since Sept. 3, 2001. However, it was the second attack in North Carolina waters in less than a month, as a 10-year-old girl was bitten in three feet of water in late June in North Topsail, about 130 miles southwest from the attack on Magnum.

It continued the rise of shark attacks across the world, as there were 79 unprovoked attacks in 2010 compared to 63 in 2009.