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‘I thought it was a big fish’

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‘I thought it was a big fish’


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North Texas woman bitten by shark on South Padre Island

A North Texas woman recalls her terrifying escape from a shark attack on South Padre Island. The shark bit her left calf off. “My leg is pretty much gone.”

A North Texas couple was among the four people injured after encountering a shark on South Padre Island on the Fourth of July holiday.

The most seriously injured victim told FOX 4 that the shark attacked her while she and her daughter were out past a sandbar. She says the shark then followed her to shallow water, and her husband fought it off.

From her McAllen hospital, Tabatha Sullivent, of Celina, recalls her terrifying escape from a shark attack in the waters of South Padre Island. 

“I turned around and saw something dark in the water. And I thought it was a big fish, and I was going to kick it away. That’s when it grabbed me,” she recalled. “I think it let go of me, and I was able to start swimming to the beach with one leg and my arms. It didn’t grab me there. Then I got closer to the beach, and people started pulling me out. My husband had me first. But then he dropped me because the shark was in a pursuit.”

The shark bit Tabatha’s left calf off.

“My leg is pretty much gone,” she said. “They flushed it out today. It’s all the way to the bone. It did not go through the bone.”

*WARNING: Some images may be graphic for some viewers.*

Tabatha’s husband, Cary Sullivent, came to her rescue as the shark followed her into shallow water.

Cary is now by his wife’s bedside while recovering from bites down his leg from fighting the shark off. 

“If my husband didn’t jump into action and everyone else on the beach. If I didn’t have people pulling me out — not just to pull me out but jumping between the shark and me — I don’t think it would’ve stopped,” she said.

Kyle Jud, of Oak Point, witnessed the Sullivents’ shark attack from the beach. 

“While they were treating her, they were trying to get a tourniquet to her,” he recalled. “While they were treating her, the shark was right there in the first gut. In probably knee-deep water.”

Jud started recording and followed the shark down the beach along with DPS on a boat and a helicopter. 

According to the city of South Padre Island, four people were injured. 

The city called the situation “unprecedented” and says the last shark bite there happened five years ago.

“To see South Padre with that many people and nobody in the water, it was surreal,” Jud said. “It was nothing like I’ve seen before. It was like a movie or something. So, so wild.”

Tabatha tells FOX 4 she can wiggle her toes a bit, but the level of mobility is still up in the air. Her next surgery is on Tuesday. 



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