Tennessee girl bitten by shark while vacationing on St. Simons Island

Adyson McNeely, 11, recovering after shark bites her leg in waist-deep water

Adyson McNeely recovers Tuesday on the beach after she was bitten by a shark.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – A Tennessee girl expected to get a tan, not a shark bite, while vacationing with her family in St. Simons Island.

Adyson McNeely was bitten on the leg by a shark Monday while standing in waist-deep waters off the Southeast Georgia coast.

Thankfully, the 11-year-old will be OK after the frightening incident. As she continued to recover Tuesday, she spoke to News4Jax from the beach, near the First Street access, where it happened.

"I felt really scared. I didn't really know for sure," Adyson said. "It was running down my leg pretty bad. It was bleeding quite a bit."

She didn't see the shark, so she had no idea how big it was. It looked to be an exploratory bite by the shark.

The doctor who treated Adyson said it appeared to be a bite from a sand shark. 

"I was walking back and I see my mom wailing her arms," Adyson recounted. "I thought, 'What is my mom acting so dramatic about?'"

Hannah McNeely, her mother, said she's thankful the bite was not any worse.

"Anytime you hear your daughter's been bit by a shark, you're going to freak out a little bit," McNeely said.

Adyson returned to the beach the next day, but she stayed on the sand under an umbrella. She's not allowed in the ocean until her wound heals.

The 11-year-old was the first reported shark bite so far this year in the Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida area.

Last year, according to News4Jax records, there were three reported shark bites in the area. There were seven locally recorded shark bites in 2016.

According to the International Shark Attack Files administered by the Florida Museum of Natural History, Georgia ranks in the top 10 states with the most shark attacks. 

Before Monday, the most recent shark attack in Georgia occurred in 2014 when a 12-year-old boy was bitten while surfing off Tybee Island. 

Adyson's mother said her perspective about the ocean has changed since her daughter was bitten. 

"I will be scared to death," she said. "I just want to go down the whole beach and be, like, 'My daughter got bit by a shark. Be careful."

Though members of the McNeely family returned to the beach Tuesday, they did not go into the water and said they don't have plans to in the future.

What should you do if you are bitten by a shark? Like Adyson did, get out of the water as soon as possible. Experts advise that if you can't swim away, defend yourself and try to punch the shark's eyes, gills or nose.

About the Author:

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.