Doctors on Vacation Helped Save Girl's Life After Shark Attack

Alabama teen lost hand, leg in Florida attack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2024 6:23 PM CDT
Teen Lost Hand, Leg in Shark Attack
People walk along the shoreline in Navarre Beach, Florida, in this file photo.   (Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

The mother of Lulu Gribbin, one of two teenagers injured in a shark attack in Florida on Friday says the 15-year-old girl lost a hand, a leg, and two-thirds of her blood, but she is "eternally grateful" for the surgeons and others on the beach and in the hospital who saved her life. In a post on the Caring Bridge website, Alabama mother Ann Blair Gribbin said the attack off Rosemary Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast happened on the third day of their "first mother daughter beach trip," reports.

  • She said Lulu and her twin sister, Ellie, went to the beach on Friday with friends. She said she was walking to meet the girls after lunch when she saw people surrounding somebody who turned out to be Lulu. "I saw her wounds on her leg and started to scream. She was lifeless her eyes closed mouth white and pale," Gribbin wrote. "The wound on her leg or all that was left of her leg was something out of a movie."

  • Gribbin said Lulu told her the shark attacked a group of six friends looking for sand dollars in waist-high water. "I am not sure who noticed the shark first, but Lulu said it bit her hand and then her leg and then went for her other friend and got her foot," she wrote. "Lulu said a man grabbed her other arm and pulled her out."
  • She said people on the beach, including nurses and two doctors, provided first aid that was crucial to saving Lulu's life before she was airlifted to a hospital in Pensacola, the Guardian reports.

  • She said surgeons told her that "the shark had bitten off Lulu's left hand and that they had to amputate her right leg halfway up from her knee to her hip. She also had lost most of the blood in her body. "Of course, no one wants that for your child but she is alive," Gribbin said, adding that when Lulu woke up, her first words were, "I made it."
  • Physicians Ryan Forbess and Mohammad Ali are friends who vacation in the area every summer. They say they grabbed their kids and ran out of the water when they heard sounds of panic on the beach, and their medical training kicked in when they saw the extent of Lulu's injuries, WKRG reports. They say other medical professionals also ran to help and while they didn't know them, they worked together efficiently to save the girl's life. "We might've as well worked with them for years," Forbess says.
  • The other teen, McCray Faust, had minor injuries. A 45-year-old woman's left arm was amputated after a separate attack around 4 miles away 90 minutes earlier.
(More shark attack stories.)

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