Teen recalls terrifying shark attack

Paige Winter, 17, who lost two fingers and had her left leg amputated in the attack, told "GMA"'s Robin Roberts, "I just knew it was bad."
8:34 | 06/18/19

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Transcript for Teen recalls terrifying shark attack
First this half hour that exclusive with Paige winter, that 17-year-old North Carolina girl robin has been telling us about attacked by that shark losing her leg, many of her fingers and now she's speaking out and sat down with robin and from what you've told us already this is a brave and inspiring girl. She is the definition, the definition of hope and courage. She's vowing to walk again, to ride again. Do everything she did before the brutal encounter with that shark. June 2nd was like any other day at the beach? We were all chilling and we were hanging out making jokes. Reporter: Paige winter was swimming in the ocean laughing with her family and friends when the unthinkable happened. She's in bad shape. I mean her leg is almost gone. How far away from shore were you? The deepest I got was waist deep and then I got pulled underwater. Sometimes you go to the beach with your family and they like grab your leg underwater as a joke. I was like, ha, harkes that's ly funny, ow. Reporter: The terrifying realization being attacked by a shark. Pulling her under. So then I look up and look around and I'm like, all of my family is still above the water right now so then I start struggling and I'm like pushing with this foot away and I like start feeling around and I feel it. Reporter: The 17-year-old tries to fight it off. The struggle overwhelming. I reach down underwater and I try to pry it off me and then I remember giving up for a second and I just started laying there and then my dad pulls me out of the water. Reporter: Paige's dad Charlie is a firefighters and paramedic. I was like, dad, please help me. I heard Charlie, shark, got her and she was under the water. Under the water. At one point his energy dropped. I can't like I can't, man and I was like, yes you can. Please help me. When -- What did you do? You can see pink and I dove in and grabbed her. You saw the shark. Oh, yeah. What did you do. After I pulled her up you can see the shark come up right with her and staring at me sideway, the biggest, blackest eye piercing just -- there's no negotiating with it. Reporter: He remembers punching the shark as hard as he could fighting it off then carrying Paige to shore. I was really aware considering what had happened. I never lost consciousness. What kind of pain were you in? My body went into shock so I couldn't really feel anything. I just knew it was bad. Reporter: The shark ravaged her hands. Her left leg mangled and later amputated below the knee now facing months of the plastic surgery and physical therapy, Paige's doctors cannot get over her positive attitude. I told her I would have to amputate your leg and she said, okay, can I get a cool prosthetic. She's turning it into a teachable moment. This situation has urged me to learn more about sharks. I didn't do something directly to the shark but I was in his water, you know. That's his house. I was very happy that I was the one who got bit. I hate thinking about it, right? If it was my dad, I would not have been able to help and he would have died. He said that he -- I was talking to him about it. I would have been okay with dying, Paige. I would just rather you get out of the water and that was so tough to hear because I love my Charlie too is grappling with how close he came to losing his daughter. I was scared. I thought she was -- I thought I was -- I had moments left. That's all I thought I had and one reason I thought was because how completely calm she was, not -- I remember thinking this isn't good. This isn't right. I'm a dad. Yeah. A dad and I just wanted to take the moment in and hold her hand and tell her I loved her over and over because if you weren't going to be another for five minutes I wanted the last thing you knew how much I loved you. I love you too, dad. It's okay. It's -- This is your little girl and to have they are go through what she has, I can't panel for a parent what that must be like for her. It's hard. Mornings I walk outside and you'll think about it and you pace and you think and you replace stuff. It's tough. But, you know what, about she's going to be as tough as she is and she's going to have the outlook she has then why shouldn't I? She's firing me. She fuels me. That's what gets me through the it's her. It's her attitude. It's her go. It's her drive. You don't know what your kids are going to do when they're faced with something and she's facing it. When did you know she was going to be okay? When I got here and I knew she was out of surgery and that's -- that's when I knew and then once she woke up and she wants to know about her Snapchat streak. Reporter: But the world wanted to know more about her including a couple of high-profile celebrity fans. Oh, my gosh. Who had to surprise her with these video messages like Adam lambert. I wanted to give you a big shout Ute. He's my favorite male singer. I love Adam lambert. Reporter: And iron man himself. Miss winter. Robert Downey Jr. With a special request. Because of your interest in sustainability and press sker Vegas of our ohs and marine life I want to see if you would join my footprint coalition and be my North Carolina ambassador. Awesome. You know, I have a phrase -- I've gone through health challenges and people say, E.O. You're a survivor and I -- I'm a thriver. You are a thriver. I'm a thriver, I like that. I don't want to survive going through -- you don't -- I want to thrive. I'm trying to thrive. I feel that, I like that. What has been the most difficult time? It's tough. I'm 17, you know, being stuck in a hospital bed all day, not really able to do all the things I used to do. Not having a leg. It's really tough not to be able to help yourself feel better. I'm going to be okay. I'll do all that stuff again. They'll fit me for a prosthetic. I'm still paigy, just a little different. Got some pieces of the puzzle missing. It's okay. Shark didn't touch your spirit? It did not. It did not. I'm telling you and she and her father are so thankful to so many people, you know, there on the beach. Her father fought off the shark, brought her back to shore. He was spent. Wiped out. There were so many people there on the beach that were helping out and they needed to stop the bleeding and needed a tourniquet there just happened to be somebody passing by on with a belt. Who has -- the fact they could get her so quickly to a trauma center in that region and people often talk about the need for these types of centers, these trauma centers in rush areas like that and that trauma center there, there were so many angels that were watching over her. Everything she went through, her spirit like her dad, you could see he's replaying it and taking it so much differently than she is but as you said her spirit is what's driving him and driving me. I'm watching that thinking about my kids. I know you were. And trying not to lose it. There are some people asking, was she just doing that on camera? Is she -- I'm telling you, I talked to her doctors, her nurses, so many people and her mother and father and said this is Paige. This is who she is and she really wants to get the message out to people you have to keep hope. Paige, if you're watch this morning, you have really moved all of us here in the studio. Robert Downey Jr., had a picture of him in her hospital room. That's how much she likes him. So our thanks to Adam and Robert. You can see much more of our interview with Paige tonltsz on "Nightline." Much more from her and her dad. Look forward to that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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