A Jacksonville girl is finally home tonight, recovering from a suspected shark bite.
Kaley Szarmac’s family invited Action News Jax Paige Kelton to their home, to see firsthand, how the 10-year-old is recovering.
Hanging over her bed are well-wishes from friends who still can't believe what happened.
Kaley was with her family Wednesday at the beach near 25th Avenue South standing in waist-deep water when she felt a tug.
"I just remember it bumping me, and I turned around and it was on my leg and you could see the whole tail thrashing around," Kaley said.
It was over in seconds, as she waded out of the water, the pain set in, but something else did too.
"It was just instinct," Kaley said.
Worried her 6-year-old friend wouldn't be able to get out of the water in time, Kaley made a very grown up decision. Bleeding from a gaping wound in her leg and in pain, Kaley went back into the water.
"She was much smaller than me and she was pretty skinny, and if that shark was still going after her she would get more hurt than this," Kaley said.
The girls got out ok, and witnesses and paramedics rushed Kaley to Wolfsons Children’s Hospital where she needed 90 stitches.
"Everything is going to heal up nicely and no permanent damage except for a gnarly scar that’s going to make for a great story," said Kaley's mother, Sarah Szarmac.
Kaley is recovering at home now and is enjoying a little pampering from her two brothers and younger sister, but she's already thinking about her next time in the water.
"Are you afraid to go back into the water," Paige asked.
“No. Not really," Kaley replied. "What are the chances that you're going to get bit by a shark twice. I'm pretty sure I'm set for life."
Kaley's family wanted to make sure everyone knew how thankful they were, for the strangers who helped on the beach, to the paramedics and the staff at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Sarah Szarmac tells Action News Jax a shark expert looked at her daughter’s injuries and believes it was a 4-foot black-tip shark that attacked her.
Kaley starts the fifth grade at a new school this week. She's only one story away from making new friends on her first day.
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