Teen who lost leg, fingers in shark attack describes the moment she was bitten

Paige Winter, 17, said she started praying for her life when the shark pulled her under. Her father Charlie Winter talks about jumping into the water and punching the shark to get it off of her.
8:06 | 06/19/19

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Transcript for Teen who lost leg, fingers in shark attack describes the moment she was bitten
me. Reporter: A vicious and almost deadly encounter. Is she awake and breathing? If she is, she's barely. She's in bad shape. I mean her leg is almost gone. I kept saying I got you. There was a lot of blood lost. Reporter: And an incredible survivor, beating all the odds. I did not think I was going to die. Reporter: 17-year-old Paige winter attacked by a shark off the coast of North Carolina losing most of her left leg and sustaining serious damage to both her hands, but her fighting spirit and fierce determination inspiring so many. What is your message here? Sometimes life just throws really weird obstacles at you. This is one of those really weird, crazy obstacles. It's really hard. But isn't that why we do things because they're hard? Reporter: On June 2nd, Paige and her loved ones are enjoying a day at atlantic beach, playing in waist-high water with her family when she is suddenly pulled under water. I was like laughing because I thought, sometimes you go to the beach with your family and they grab your leg as a joke and I was like, ha, ha, really funny, ow. So I start struggling, and I'm like pushing with this foot away and I start feeling around and I feel it, I go from front to back and it's smooth, and I'm like, is this a snapping turtle? What's happening, you know like a dog when they get a rope and they go like this with their whole body? Reporter: She reaches down and tries to tug the shark off of her. I remember giving up for a second, and I start praying, I'm 17. Please don't let me die. I'm not ready to die. And my dad pulls me out of the water. Reporter: Her dad Charlie, a firefighter and paramedic immediately springs into action. You could tell where she was, because you could see pink on the water. She was already getting pulled back. That's when I dove in and grabbed her. Reporter: What did you do? When I pulled her up you could see the shark come up with her and you start immediately beating him with everything you could. And he started staring at me sideways, the biggest, blackest eye piercing. Reporter: How did you know? I didn't. I just knew it had my girl. Reporter: He remembers fighting off the shark and carrying Paige to shore. He switched from paramedic mode to dad mode. I was holding her leg as hard as I could to stop the bleeding. Once I hit the shore I'm a dad. A dad, and I just wanted to take the moment in, hold her hand and tell her I loved her over and over. He did it. And over again. A lot. Because if you weren't going to be around for another five minutes I wanted the last thing you knew is how much I love you. I love you too, dad. I was scared. One of the reasons I thought is just how completely calm she was. I remember thinking, this isn't good. This isn't right. I was really aware, considering what had happened. I never lost consciousness. Reporter: What kind of pain were you in, Paige? My body went into shock, so I really couldn't feel anything. I just knew it was bad. Reporter: She is airlifted to Greenville, North Carolina less than 90 miles away. As a team of doctors work to save her life, Paige's attitude is still remarkably upbeat. She's pretty incredible. As she rolled into the door to the trauma bay, she was cracking jokes. I told her I was going to have to amputate her leg, and she said okay, can I get a cool prosthetic? You can get whatever you want. Reporter: The ability to reach the trauma center so quickly would be a key to her survival. If Paige had to go any further, who know what is would happen, and Paige isn't the only person this is going to happen to. There are other men, women and children who are going to have an accident. What happens to them? Reporter: And there was another crucial intervention for Paige. Back on the beach, a stranger handed over his belt used as a tourniquet. If that tourniquet had not been placed, I don't think she would have survived. You've got to tighten it until the bleeding stops. It's painful. The patient is going to hurt. But in order to save their life you have to place it so the bleeding stops. Reporter: Paige is now facing lots of surgery and physical therapy. It looked like surgical knives taken to her hands. That's a very, very severe injury to not only reconstruct but recover from. Reporter: Her doctors and nurses say the most part is her positive outlook. What kind of patient is she? The best. She's fun. She makes coming to work every day when I have her so exciting. Reporter: So it's legit. She really have this way? She wasn't just putting on for the cameras? No. Reporter: Since her brush with death this month there have been two more shark attacks along the North Carolina coast, including an 8-year-old whose leg was bitten and a 19-year-old surfer, Austin Reid bitten on the foot. I go oh, my gosh. I just got bit by a shark. Reporter: There were 32 unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. In 2018. Almost half of the worldwide total. The chances of being attacked by a shark are roughly one in 11.5 million. While shark encounters continue to make news causing concern about safety at the beach, Paige does not blame the sharks. This situation has urged me to learn more about sharks, because even in the back of that ambulance, I was like, guys, like don't get mad at the shark, like the shark is fine. Reporter: Can you help people understand why you feel that way? I didn't do something directly to the shark. But I was in his water, you know? That's his house. I love sharks. A lot of sharks are killed, and even though in the U.S. It was banned in 2009 but only 12 states banned the sale of shark fins. I love the fact that she loves them. Reporter: This is somebody you might recognize. Paige, surprising so many people with her grit and grace that we wanted to surprise her. I just wanted to give you a big shout out. He's my favorite male singer. Look at me, I love Adam lambert! Reporter: And iron man himself. Robert Downey Jr., with a special request. Like a Tony with Peter parker a few years back, I'm in a bit of recruitment mode. I want to see if you would join my footprint coalition and be my North Carolina ambassador. Awesome. Ah! Reporter: Paige's dad Charlie says he's still struggling with how close he came to losing his daughter. I can't imagine for a parent what that must be like for you. It's hard. Mornings you walk outside and you think about it a little bit. You replay stuff. It's tough. But if she's going to be as tough as she is and have the outlook she has, why shouldn't I? Reporter: What is the most difficult thing? I always did my hair and makeup and dyed my hair by myself, and now I can't do any of that. But I know I'm going to be okay. You feel me? I'm going to do all the stuff I used to do. I was aware from the beginning. Nothing's going to be the same ever again. I'm still paigy, just little got some pieces of the puzzle missing. But it's okay. Reporter: The shark didn't touch your spirit. It did not. Reporter: I'm robin Roberts for "Nightline," Greenville, North Carolina. Bravo to Paige. And our thanks to robin.

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

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