Sheriff: Teen bitten by shark while vacationing on Amelia Island

Sheriff Bill Leeper describes wounds to girl's foot and ankle as 'serious'

By Maggie Lorenz - Multi-media journalist, Colette DuChanois - Web producer

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. - A teenage girl was bitten on the foot and ankle by a shark Friday morning while she was vacationing on Amelia Island, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said. 

It happened about 7:30 a.m. as the 16-year-old was boogie boarding at the beach near the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, where she was a guest, Leeper told News4Jax. It's unclear how far out she was at the time.

Jackie Jozaitis says she was celebrating her friend's birthday, boogie boarding in waist-deep water.
 
"Then, I went to get a wave, and then I felt, like, a jaw, like, snap on my foot," she said. "And I was like, 'Oh my gosh, something bit me.' I was freaking out. I, like, took my, like, foot off, I'm like, 'What had bit me?' And I started running out of the water."
 
Jozaitis' mother said the shark bite missed severing the Sarasota teen's Achilles tendon by a fraction of an inch. Doctors tell her it will take time before she can walk again with a full recovery possibly months away.

WATCH: Teenager describes shark bite

Jackie Jozaitis describes being bitten by shark.

A security officer from the hotel called 911 for help. 

"They think a guest got bit by a shark and is bleeding at the Omni at the pool deck right now," he can be heard saying in the 911 call released Friday afternoon.

Leeper described the shark bite as "serious." The teen was taken to a hospital in Nassau County about 20 minutes away from the resort. The sheriff was unable to say where she and her family were visiting from.

A director at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort released a statement, which reads in part:

“We had a guest with reported lacerations to the foot and they were transported to a local hospital. As always, we encourage guests to exercise caution and follow local advisories."

Beachgoers had mixed reactions when they learned of the shark attack.

"It definitely makes me feel like I need to look out and just be cautious," vacationer Lamiiko Moore told News4Jax.

Moore, who was staying just up the beach from the resort, said she will still go in the water, just not too deep. 

"I want to be able to see the water, see what's going on as much as possible," Moore said. 

But not everyone shares her concern. 

"It's terrible to the person it happened to, but what are you gonna do? There are sharks in the water and there are people in the water," beachgoer Joe Szewczyk said. "I got a better chance of hitting the lottery than getting bit by a shark."

Some lotteries, maybe, but not the Powerball. 

Though shark attacks have low odds, they are still quite a bit higher than those of winning a Powerball jackpot. But, for comparison, you are more likely to get struck by lightning or get hit by an asteroid than to get attacked by a shark. 

Friday's shark bite was the third this year in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia waters. That's one bite fewer than all of 2018, which saw four.

Area shark bites in recent years

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