An American tourist who was mauled by a shark while diving in the Bahamas has compared the near-fatal attack to a horror movie.
73-year-old diver Heidi Ernst almost bled to death when the beast injured her leg just before she got back on the boat on June 7.
Now, the Iowa native is still recovering after making the difficult decision to amputate the broken limb.
“I didn’t even see him coming towards me. It came from below and it was like a truck hit me,” she told the ABC affiliate KABC TV from a sick room.
“And then it was like a scene from a horror movie.”
Ernst is an experienced diver and just celebrated her 500th dive earlier this year.
Each excursion took place off the coast of the island of Grand Bahama with the same operator she has worked with for 11 years.
This final dive was different, however, as she and her regular crew pulled in alongside a group of tourists who had gotten into a feeding frenzy.
Sharks frolic in the water while tourists in a small boat fed them.
The submersible cautiously waited for the event to subside and decided it was safe to get in once the sharks had dispersed.
The dive went smoothly and the group was able to enjoy the reef and take beautiful photos.
As they went up, everyone stripped off their gear and began to relax.
Ernst quickly jumped back for a final swim, but was targeted by the shark as she began to climb back onto the boat.
It yanked open her leg and shook its head back and forth before she was instinctively able to punch it and shake it off.
When she got on the boat, the instructor could see that the shark had severed her blood vessels.
“I would have bled to death easily if my friend hadn’t put the tourniquet on my leg,” Ernst said.
The instructor’s wife called 911 while everyone surrounded the elderly diver, trying to keep her awake.
“That’s exactly what you do when someone is in great need,” she said The newspaper. “You hold them and comfort them and tell them, ‘Just stick with it,’ so you don’t drift off.”
“You were instrumental in keeping me alive. Everyone was.”
Ernst was taken to the hospital in Miami, but doctors had to amputate her left leg.
She said: “I made the decision with the surgeon to have my leg removed. It was obvious it couldn’t be saved.”
She said doctors agreed that saving the leg would not have been a “good idea” due to a widespread infection.
A GoFundMe was created to fund recovery efforts.
The attack came just a month after 15-year-old Maggie Drozdowski was mauled by a shark while surfing with a friend in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
The foot was trapped, but she escaped and is expected to make a full recovery.
“Shark attacks are extremely unusual in general,” said Patrick Rex of the Cal State University Shark Laboratory in Long Beach.
“The fact that they’ve seen increasing numbers of great white sharks over the last few decades means that the conservation and management is working.”
“I think it’s great that these sharks don’t bite people, and people shouldn’t be afraid of them.”