Florida beach gets marine patrol after 3 shark attacks

Cops in Florida’s panhandle are on high alert after three shark attacks in a single day left one woman badly maimed and two teen girls injured on the same stretch of coastline.

Authorities temporarily closed the beaches and are patrolling the waters after the encounters, which left a 45-year-old woman with severe injuries that led doctors to amputate part of her left arm.

They have since reopened — but cops say swimmers need to stay vigilant.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office in Florida is patrolling the waters after a trio of shark attacks on Friday. Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida/Facebook
The sheriffs spotted a hammerhead in the water — which they said is not uncommon. AFP via Getty Images

“The Walton County Sheriff’s Office Beach Marine Unit continues to monitor the shoreline and the beaches Saturday following Friday’s incidents involving sharks in Walton County,” the department said in a Facebook post.

“Deputies spotted a 14-foot hammerhead east of South County Highway 395 in Santa Rosa Beach this morning from the boat — which is NOT uncommon,” the post continued. “We want to reiterate that sharks are always present in the Gulf. Swimmers and beachgoers should be cautious when swimming and be aware of their surroundings at all times.”

Authorities posted red and purple flags on the beach to warn swimmers — red for high hazard, and purple for dangerous marine life.

In another Facebook post, the sheriff’s office asked visitors to be aware of their surroundings and “remember, we are guests in the Gulf [of Mexico].”

The 45-year-old woman who suffered the most egregious injuries was swimming with her husband at Watersound Beach in Walton County at about 1:15 p.m. Friday when the shark struck, South Walton Fire District Chief Ryan Crawford told reporters.

Authorities warned swimmers to be vigilant after the attacks. Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida/Facebook

The attack caused “significant trauma” to the victim’s body, and part of her left arm was later removed, the chief said, according to ABC News.

She was airlifted to HCA Fort Walton-Destin Hospital in critical condition.  

About an hour-and-a-half later, a shark attacked two teens who were swimming with their friends in waist-deep water near Inlet Beach, about four miles away, officials said.

The girls — ages 15 and 17 — were both hurt, with one girl suffering “significant injuries” to her upper leg and hand, Crawford said.

Two doctors who were vacation together happened to be in the water during the attacks — and provided potentially life-saving care to the wounded girl.

Ryan Forbess and Mohammad Ali were boogie boarding in the water with their kids when they heard panic on the shoreline, according to News 5 WKRG.

“We all started running out of the water,” Forbess said. “I grabbed my son; he grabbed his daughter, and then I looked over to the left as we were getting to the beach, and I saw cloudy red water from the shark attack.”

Three swimmers were wounded in shark attacks in Florida on Friday. South Walton Fire District
One of the victims was rushed out of the water and to the helicopter after the attack. South Walton Fire District

When the doctors reached the sand, they worked with other EMTs and trauma nurses who happened to be in area to help the desperately injured girl.

“When I looked down at her and saw the severity of the injury, I realized that anybody with any kind of medical knowledge needed to help,” Ali told the network.

They applied tourniquets to her upper leg and hand, and kept pressure on the bleeding wounds.

Although Forbess and Ali said they didn’t know the other medical experts they were working with, they worked together seamlessly.

The Sheriff’s Office also reminded visitors that people are “guests” in the Gulf of Mexico. Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida/Facebook

“We might as well [have] worked with them for years,” Forbess said.

“It was amazing,” Forbes added. “Kind of just … it was God’s will that everyone was there to help at the same time.”

The victim was airlifted to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola Hospital in critical condition.

EMS workers brought her friend — who had only minor injuries to her foot — to a local hospital for treatment.

“This is an anomaly … everything from it being three victims, to where it’s at,” Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr. told reporters. “All we can do is respond, control, and mitigate what we can.”

Adkinson Jr. said the last shark attack in the county was back in 2021. The last fatal attack was in 2005.

Leave a Comment