Patrick Thornton was at the beach with his family, swimming in the water, when he felt a tug at his foot.
That tug happened to be a 5-foot shark.
The 47-year-old was attacked Friday in the shallow waters of Avon Beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, one of six shark attacks on North Carolina beaches in June. The Charlotte, North Carolina, resident fought back.
“It took a pretty big chunk out of my right leg, so I started punching the shark, and then it grabbed my back and must have bit me in the back,” Thornton said.
Thornton managed to get the shark off of him. His niece and nephew, located nearby, made it to shore. But his son Jack stayed in the water, paralyzed with fear.
“I ran over and grabbed Jack, and as I was bringing him to the shore, the shark came and bit me again in the back, and this time he bit me really, really hard,” Thornton said.
Thornton says he punched the shark again. Finally, it swam off.
Once onshore, Thornton was rushed to the hospital, suffering wounds to his right leg and deep punctures in his back.
If a shark attacks, experts say, you should use whatever you can to fight back.
Thornton is now home and recovering. He says it might be a little while before he visits the beach again.
“I will probably spend more time in the mountains,” he said.