911 calls released in Vero Beach tourist shark attack
Woman in stable condition at Florida hospital
The 911 calls have been released on Thursday in a Vero Beach shark attack where a German tourist almost lost her leg.
Authorities say 47-year-old Karin Ulrike Stei, of Konstanz, Germany, was attacked in waist-deep water Wednesday afternoon about 30 yards off Vero Beach.
Beachgoers say it looked like the shark took almost her leg in just a single bite.
"It was from a foot above her knee to half her calf was just gone. It wasn't like it was still there. It was just gone," a third witness said.
The 911 calls reiterated how serious the attack looked.
Caller: What bit her? What bit her? A shark.
Dispatcher: It's a shark bite?
Caller: Yes, it is. It's huge ma'am. Her whole chunk is out of her leg, we need somebody quickly."
The shark bit her left thigh to the bone, causing a 12-inch laceration. Experts at the International Shark Attack File say Stei was likely targeted by an aggressive Bull, Tiger or Lemon shark. They are known for their serrated teeth and ability to tear large chunks of flesh from the human body.
"She was the only one in the water. You could see her backpedaling, and then you just see a black cloud forming around her. And by the time she screamed again, we pretty much knew," a witness said.
"She screamed, I looked up. And obviously, there was a bunch of blood around her," another man said.
Stein was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce. According to the 911 calls, a medical helicopter was spotted in the area at the time of the attack, saw blood in the water and came to help. An off-duty lifeguard, who is also a registered nurse was also at the scene.
Records show shark bites are rare in Indian River County. From 1882 to 2011, there have been 17 shark bites reported.
"I was surprised by it because we've never really had anything like this before," said Vero Beach resident Lauren Vivirito.
Lauren and her sister, Stephanie, say they come to the beach at least once a week, but now they are staying out of the emerald blue water that they love.
"I don't want to go into the water at all," said Stephanie Vivirito. "It's just scary to know that something like this could happen."
In Volusia County, known as the "shark bite capital of the world," there have been 242 attacks.
In Brevard County, 103 have been reported since 1882.
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
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