Florida shark attack: Pennsylvania girl shares story of survival

Author: Madeleine Wright / CBS Philadelphia
Published: Updated:
Magnolia Woodhead, 12, shows her shark bite. Credit: CBS Philadelphia

A Delaware County girl is on the mend after being bitten by a shark in Florida. The attack happened in June, and she’s now sharing her remarkable story of survival.

Magnolia Woodhead, 12, is reliving the moment she was attacked by a shark while swimming in waist-deep water.

“My first thought was like, ‘Would I not be able to compete?’ Because I was so excited,” Woodhead said.

Magnolia is a gymnast, and she was getting ready to compete in the USAIGC World Championships in Central Florida. The day before the tournament, she and her family went to Cocoa Beach to have fun.

“I was out there, just like, in the ocean. And a wave came by, and I ducked under it and then all of a sudden, I was like, ‘Something just came at me and like started biting me,'” Woodhead said.

Woodhead says she never actually saw the shark, but she felt it and pushed it away.

After it let go of her leg, she ran to shore.

“I hear Magnolia screaming at the top of her lungs. Never heard her scream so loud before in my life. So I knew something was wrong,” Melissa Stallings, Woodhead’s mother, said.

Woodhead was rushed to the hospital, where she got 50 stitches. Despite her injury, she still came to the tournament to cheer on her teammates.

“They were crying, and my friend was so happy to see me and know that I was OK,” Woodhead said.

Magnolia Woodhead and friends at a gymnastics competition after Magnolia’s shark attack. Credit: CBS Philadelphia

Even though she couldn’t compete, the organizers of the competition gave her a medal and commended her for her bravery.

“We went out onto the floor, and he gave me a standing ovation kind of thing,” Woodhead said.

Three weeks after the attack, her wound is healing well, and Woodhead is back doing what she loves.

“She’s been so strong and just handled it so well. I just, I don’t know. I’m in awe every day,” Stallings said. “I’m just really thankful that nothing bad happened to me like, nothing really bad like, it could have bitten my whole leg off.”

Woodhead says it could be years before she’s comfortable going back to the beach, but she’s grateful it wasn’t worse.

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