COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands man is recovering after being bitten by a shark off the coast of North Carolina this week.
As is often the case with stories like this, Don White's family fishing trip on Thursday started off peacefully. "We had a good day on the reef, caught quite a few fish," he said.
On the way back to Morehead City, the group decided to jump in and cool off a little before heading into port. That's when it happened. "All of a sudden I felt severe pressure like a strike on my right foot," said Don.
An eight-foot Bull Shark had torn open a long gash in Don's leg. "I said, 'Everybody out of the water. I think something hit me!'"
"When I saw the look on his face, instinct kicked in and I swam as fast as I could to get out of the water," said son Donnie White.
As his son and a few others pulled Don to safety, he realized he was leaving a trail. "Looked in the water and there was some blood in the water, several sharks swimming around - a lot of activity under the boat," said Don.
Now out of reach, the young men kept their composure to get Don out of danger. "Once we had him on the boat, we tied a belt around his leg because we figured a tourniquet would stop the bleeding," said Donnie. "And after that, we found towels and our T-shirts and tied those around his leg as tight as we could."
"It was sort of surreal, like this isn't happening," said Don.
Back on land, doctors managed to pull a small souvenir of the attack out of Don's leg. It was a shark tooth. "So I've got a little reminder of the activity that day," said Don.
Two days and 120 stitches later, the Whites said watching Shark Week on TV is nothing compared to having lived it. "We made jokes like 'Oh, it'd be funny to be on Shark Wee,.' and we like watching the show. But now that it actually happened, it's a different perspective," said Donnie
It's an experience that will stay with all of them for a long time. "As far as swimming in the ocean or taking a dip while we're fishing, it will never happen again," said Don.