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Teen loses hand & leg in one of 3 Florida shark attacks within 90 mins

Lulu Gribbin, Mountain Brook, Alabama teen loses hand & leg in shark attack during Florida vacation in back to back attacks within 90 minutes, targeting 3 victims.
Lulu Gribbin, Mountain Brook, Alabama teen loses hand & leg in shark attack during Florida vacation.
Lulu Gribbin, Mountain Brook, Alabama teen loses hand & leg in shark attack during Florida vacation in back to back attacks within 90 minutes, targeting 3 victims.

Lulu Gribbin, Mountain Brook, Alabama vacationing teen one of three victims in back to back shark attacks along Walton County, Florida coastline in span of 90 minutes as girl loses hand and leg in ‘rare’ shark attack. 

Summer has arrived… The mother of a 15 year old teen who lost a hand and leg in a rare series of shark attacks along a Florida beach has recalled the moments leading up to the attack and provided an update on her daughter’s condition. 

The attack was one of three ‘back to back attacks’ in the span of 90 minutes along four miles in Walton County, Friday afternoon. 

Lulu Gribbin, 15, of Mountain Brook, Alabama who was vacationing with her family to the area was one of two teens injured in one of two shark attacks. The other teen, McCray Faust, 17, also of Mountain Brook suffered minor injuries, according to reports

‘You never think it’s going to be you…’ 

But there was more.

About an hour and a half prior to the two teens being attacked by sharks, a 45-year-old woman lost a foot in an attack. Elisabeth Foley, a vacationing wife and mother of three from Virginia was now in stable condition at HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital, WJHG TV reported.

Officials believe the same shark attacked both Foley and the two teens.

‘You don’t ever think it’s going to happen,’ told a startled beach goer, NBC reported. The back to back shark attacks has since led to Walton County beaches being closed off to the public as officials continue to monitor the situation. 

Gribbin’s mother, Ann Blair Gribbin, on Sunday provided details of Friday’s attack along with an update on her daughter’s condition on the Caring Bridge website.

She said Lulu and and her twin sister, Ellie, went to the beach with some of their friends and their mothers on Wednesday.

Elisabeth Foley, Virginia 45 year old woman victim of Florida shark attack
Elisabeth Foley Virginia 45 year old woman victim of shark attack while vacationing in Florida. Pictured with her husband. Image via social media.

‘She was lifeless her eyes closed mouth white and pale’

‘It was our first mother daughter beach trip, and we were all incredibly excited. Our first two days were amazing on the beach being with friends and going to dinners,’ Gribbin posted.

On Friday afternoon, ‘we were walking back on the beach to the girls and everyone on the beach was standing looking out into the water. No one was in the water and all we heard was there was a shark and we started to look as well,’ the post continued.

‘My friend called both her daughters and they were not answering so she started to panic and said there is something wrong and started running and so we all did.

‘The beach was packed with people just looking. I came up on a group of people surrounding someone on the ground and looked down and it was Lulu who was there. Ellie found me and said Mom its Lulu. I saw her wounds on her leg and started to scream.

‘I made it!’ 

‘She was lifeless her eyes closed mouth white and pale. The wound on her leg or all that was left of her leg was something out of a movie. I finally made it back to her and held her hand and she saw me, and I told her I was there,’ Lulu’s mother wrote.

‘Her eyes were open. I had no idea how long she had been there or what had happened. Almost immediately the beach truck was there and the EMT’s loaded her onto a board and put her back in the truck and wheeled her off, she was air lifted away,’ the post stated.

Gribbin was rushed to a Penascola hospital by air-lift where she had life saving surgery after losing more than two thirds of her blood. 

Surgeons told the family that the shark had bitten off Lulu’s left hand and that they had to amputate her right leg halfway up from her knee to her hip.

‘She also had lost 2/3 of the blood in her body. Of course, no one wants that for your child but she is alive. They also told us that Lulu may be intubated for the next week or so and would need 4-5 surgeries to finalize her amputations,’ the post stated.

Gribbin revealed that Lulu’s first words were ‘I made it’ as she spoke to her family from her hospital bed. Lulu did not have surgery on Saturday as expected and her vitals were improved, Gribbin wrote.

Gratitude and road to recovery -but how often do shark attacks actually occur? 

‘She did so well that they ended up taking the tube out of her throat and she was breathing on her own. This was a first big step. Once she was settled her first words to us were “I made it.” And boy she did,’ the post went on.

Her mother said that Lulu recalled being with friends on a sand bar in waist high water, looking for sand dollars.

‘I am not sure who noticed the shark first, but Lulu said it bit her hand and then her leg and then went for her other friend and got her foot. Lulu said a man grabbed her other arm and pulled her out and another younger boy helped him carry her to shore,’ the post states.

Fortunately for Lulu, the episode occurred within the proximity of vacationing medical staff who were able to swiftly assist the teen and probably save her life as blood poured out of the mauled girl.

‘Once on the shore there were two doctors and two other young women one of whom was a nurse who were all surrounding Lulu. These individuals put tourniquets on Lulus wounds. Which I believe was crucial to saving Lulu’s life,’ Gribbin wrote.

‘I am eternally grateful for the 3 surgeons and all the nursing staff and doctors here at this hospital who saved Lulu. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses on the beach that day. I am grateful for the EMT’s on the beach and the crew in the air. I am grateful for the individual who pulled her out of the water.’

Lulu now faces multiple surgeries going forward as officials now pondered on the severity of the attacks and what laid ahead for beachgoers. 

‘All I can say is that these incidents are very rare,’ Demian Chapman, a scientist and director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida told AP on Saturday.

There are more sharks in the Gulf of Mexico than in past years, Chapman said.

‘There’s definitely been a recovery of sharks in the Gulf after many years of overfishing,’ he said. ‘They’re sort of out there again after being depleted quite a bit.’

‘It’s even more rare to have two events in one day involving three people,’ he said. ‘That’s astronomically low odds of that happening.’

Despite the ‘disproportionate’ media attention shark attacks garner, the attacks are relatively rare, experts claim.

In 2023, there were 69 shark bites across the world which were considered to be unprovoked, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. Most were in the US and in Florida.

Ten of those 2023 shark attacks were deadly, which was higher than the recent annual average of six but was still lower than the number of fatalities reported in 2011, the file’s data showed.