NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- A family from Pennsylvania was excited to be visiting North Carolina for the first time, but their trip to North Topsail Beach did not end on a good note. The Cartwrights 10-year-old old daughter was bitten by something in the knee-deep water that led to her being airlifted to an area hospital.
"I didn't hurt at first," Cassidy Cartwright said. "It pulled me down, and it hurt. I just thought it was somebody messing around, and I found out that it wasn't 'cause it pulled me down again."
Cassidy is now recovering at UNC Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill after her close encounter with a predator at North Topsail Beach. She was playing with her body board in the ocean when her mother Carolyn saw blood and quickly pulled her daughter out with the help of a friend.
"Together we got her out, but when he pulled out of the water her leg was wide open and it was just... a lot of blood," Carolyn said.
Cassidy was air lifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Her mom says the doctors there said it was the worst the bite they'd seen.
"At that point I guess we assumed it was a shark bite, but it wasn't until we got to UNC that they had found a shark tooth in her leg," Carolyn said.
The bite broke Cassidy's Achilles tendon and did other damage to her lower leg.
Carolyn is glad her daughter is OK, but she also thinks North Topsail Beach could have done a better job alerting beach visitors when attacks like this happen. She says no one said anything to anyone along the beach after it happened.
"I think the one thing that people don't understand is is that there are sharks in the water," North Topsaidl Beach Town Manager Steve Foster said. "That's where they live, but people are not one of the main things they want to go after. But as far as response, I think we responded appropriately in this situation."
With the 4th of the July holiday around the corner, Carolyn Cartwright shares some advice with parents.
"It can happen," she said. "(You need) to be aware of the situation, the risk that you are putting your child into. Just be educated."
The Cartwrights are expected to go back home to Pennsylvania in the next two days.