Beach reopens after shark attacks along Florida Panhandle leave teens injured, woman dismembered and critical

Both incidents occurred off Walton County beaches on Friday afternoon.

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. — Update:

On Saturday, authorities said they found a 14-foot hammerhead shark off the coast of Santa Rosa Beach. They said these sharks are common in the area.

Red and purple flags were put up to warn beachgoers of the risk.

Swimmers and beachgoers should be cautious when swimming and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Original:   

A woman had her arm amputated and two teenage girls were bitten severely in separate shark-related incidents on Florida Panhandle beaches on Friday afternoon.

The first involved a 45-year-old woman, who was wounded by a shark between Seaside and Rosemary Beach, according to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

“She received significant trauma to the mid-section of her pelvic area as well as amputation of the left of her arm,” said Fire Chief Ryan Crawford of South Walton Fire District during a press conference following the incident.

The woman was reportedly swimming just past the first sandbar with her husband, he said.

South Walton Fire District Fire Chief Ryan Crawford and Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson address the public following a series of incidents involving a shark on Walton County beaches.

Posted by South Walton Fire District on Friday, June 7, 2024

The incident happened around 1:15 p.m. on Friday when deputies got the call that a woman was “hurt by a shark” in the water near Watersound Way and Coopersmith Lane.

Crawford said the woman was transported to a nearby medical center in critical condition.

Shortly afterward, the WCSO responded to a second incident after receiving multiple reports of a teenager injured by a shark near Sandy Shores Court, the area of Seacrest Beach, about four miles from the first incident location.

When authorities arrived they said there were two teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 17 years old.

“I’m told they were both with a group of friends just inside the first sandbar,” Crawford said. They were near the shoreline in waist-deep water.

The first victim had significant injuries to “one upper and lower extremity, both requiring the application of tourniquets.”

She was airlifted in critical condition to a trauma center in Pensacola, authorities said.

The second teen was bitten and received “flesh wounds to her right lower foot.” She is in stable condition.

This is not the first time people have been attacked in the area, authorities said. In 2005, a 14-year-old girl from Louisiana died after she was pulled under water while on a boogie board. The second was in 2021, when a 14-year-old boy was bit in the chest while fishing. He survived.

The sheriff’s office closed The Gulf to the public in Walton County and raised double red flags on the beaches surrounding the area.

“We are encouraging beachgoers to be cognizant that lifeguards and beach deputies may be trying keep people out of the water in the immediate area,” the department said on X.

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