'I could see the shark, and then all I saw was blood': Woman recounts shocking experience Wednesday

Emily Walker
Florida Today

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Wednesday started like a typical day at the beach for Katie Wood: she put on sunblock and immediately headed into the water.

But that beach trip ended with the 35-year-old Lakeland resident heading to the hospital with deep cuts to her foot.

She said she watched a shark bite her that afternoon.

"I looked down, and I could see the shark in between my legs thrashing with my foot in its mouth," Wood said. "I could see the shark, and then all I saw was blood."

Katie Wood and her son Mekiah on a trip to Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

The incident occurred at a beach near Patrick Space Force Base. Wood typically visits Treasure Island on the west coast of Florida, but was visiting the east coast this year instead.

Wood said she believes as she was wading in thigh-deep water, she must have either stepped on or kicked the shark. The shark was 3- to 4-feet long and strong enough it almost knocked her over, she said.

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Katie Wood of Lakeland visited a beach near Patrick Space Force Base Wednesday when she was bitten by a shark.

When she made it back to the beach, Wood and her friend wrapped her foot in a towel and called 911. Military officers from Patrick Space Force Base initially assisted in getting her off the beach, and Brevard County Fire Rescue transported her to Holmes Regional Medical Center.

There, Wood received stitches, which wrapped from the top of her foot around the side of it.

She said she'll head to a surgical podiatrist to determine whether she'll need surgery, she said.

She said she can't move her middle toe properly and believes she may have nerve damage.

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Despite the shark bite, Wood said she will "1,000%"  be back in the water as soon as her foot heals.

"My dream is to live in a minivan and travel every beach in Florida," she said.

She said she doesn't blame the shark for the incident.

"We're in their habitat," she said. "I hate when people are talking about how mean the shark is. It's not its fault."

Shark bites in Florida

In 2020, Florida saw 16 unprovoked shark bites, accounting for 28% of unprovoked bites worldwide and almost half of the United States' unprovoked bites, according to the Florida Museum. In 2019, the state saw 21 unprovoked attacks, which made up 33% of the worldwide total.

However, if Wood either stepped on or kicked the shark, the attack would likely be classified as a provoked bite, said Tyler Bowling, the manager for the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum.

Provoked attacks are defined as bites that occur when humans "initiate interaction" with a shark, according to the Florida Museum.

2020 saw a total of 57 unprovoked bites and 39 provoked bites, according to the Florida Museum. While the website stated that Florida had 16 unprovoked bites in 2020, it did not show data as to how many provoked bites the state saw.

Emily Walker is a Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at 321-290-4744 or elwalker@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @_emilylwalker

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