SARASOTA, Fla. — A Sarasota teen and her best friend woke up early Friday and walked to the beach on Amelia Island, in search of the perfect lighting for an Instagram photo.
- Jackie Jozaitis, 16, bitten in foot by shark
- She described it as "throbbing pain, crushing pain"
- Teen is grateful for the support she has received from community
- More Manatee County headlines
The two were enjoying their vacation and after snapping photos, grabbed their boogie boards to catch a few waves during sunrise.
Moments later, Jackie Jozaitis, 16, said she was only thigh-deep in the water when she felt the jaws of a shark crush her left foot.
"Throbbing pain, crushing pain," Jackie described.
The teens ran out of the water and to the deck of a nearby hotel where a security officer called 911.
"You could feel the teeth, like, sink into my foot," she said. "It was so shocking, I didn't know how to react."
Jackie's mother, Robin, was home in Sarasota when she said her phone started buzzing. It was odd, she said, to get calls so early in the morning.
"I'm like, 'What? Is this a joke! That doesn't happen,'" Robin said.
Robin communicated with first responders and hospital staff, as Jackie's friends' parents stayed with the girls in the emergency room. She received eight stitches and hours later, got on the road to return to Sarasota. The trip was initially scheduled to last until Sunday.
"No bones fractured. Her ligaments and tendons were not affected, but it was just a fraction of an inch away from being a much worse story," her mother said.
Jackie said the Nassau County Sheriff visited her in the hospital and dropped off a stuffed shark. She's had numerous visitors at her Sarasota home. Now a boogie board, Jaws T-shirt, and numerous shark-themed candies sit beside her bed.
"I felt pretty lucky, because it could have been a lot worse than it really was," she said.
Jackie said she can't walk on her foot for another six weeks, but is grateful for all of the support she has received from friends and family.