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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.

Comment on this Story

  • DrainO

    It’s the ocean. It’s not a kept secret that sharks are in the every body of water that connect to the oceans, and gulf. That meaning they have found bull sharks 3000 miles up inland from the Mississippi. The need to have posters on a beach saying “Sharks in the Water” is as useless as a sign on the roads that say “Bad Drivers on roads” or “Snakes in the woods”. Yes it’s a sad story cause there was a child involved, but that’s the risk every parent takes when bringing a child to the beach. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3′ or 10′ of water if you have been in the ocean at any point in your life chances are high that you have been right next to a shark, and never been the wiser. I live right here in Sneads Ferry, and will continue to swim in the waters cause I know I’m more likely to be bitten by someones dog or hit by some careless idiot on my way to the beach than attacked by a shark in the waters. Thank you, and I hope this poor child the best.

  • Guest

    I’m sure this young lady is feeling better and well on her way to recovery. I wish her the best and am sorry her experience of my home state has been tarnished. It is a lovely place!
    I am from coastal NC. We moved to NY state a time ago. When we go camping we have to be aware of the bears just as when we go to NC we are aware of the sharks. The sharks are always swimming around people.

    It’s best to always be aware of the environment you are in.

    Remember that when you enter any wild environment, you are in their home and are accepting the fact that anything can happen. If you are not willing to play by those rules, its best to limit your interactions to the zoo or aquarium, where people are “in charge”.

  • Guest

    A 13 year old girl was attacked by a SHARK. That was the impression I got from reading the article. There was no mention of rampaging lethal leashless pomeranians.

  • Guest

    I lived in north carolina about 3 miles from topsaid island for about 5 years of my childhood. My father still lives their and i have never had an issue like that. Im so sorry for what had happened to the little girl and it really scares me because i was just their about a week before this happened, my kids were playing in the water and my son had got himself a body bord. I dont know what i would have done if something like this had happened to me or my children. I hope that she is ok and that she doesnt hate the ocean now. But luck to her.

  • katelyn

    you wouldnet be saying that if u were the 1 who got bit and im her bff

  • katelyn

    i was there when it happend and im her bff

  • Karl

    We carry mace with us to protect our old dog and ourselves from unleashed dog.

  • N. Topsail resident

    I have been a N. Topsail Island resident since 2002. I enjoy the ocean waters very much. I have never had any shark situation towards myself, family, or friends ever come up. What i have experienced way too many times is leash law breakers letting their dogs run on our beach without being leashed. North Topsail Island has a leash law in effect for all our protection. But for some odd reason their are leash law breakers out there that think they are above it’s law. My 13 year old dog is always on his leash. And yet he has been attacked by an unleashed dog 7 times since 2002. This past memorial day week-end was no exception. He was again attacked by an unleashed dog that came running up to him. My poor 13 year old is still recovering from his wounds. My neighbor enjoys jogging on the beach. He has been attacked by an unleashed dog twice now. My other neighbor little pooch was attacked by an unleased dog just 2 months ago. Her little pooch had to be rushed into surgery. Costing my neighbor a $500.00 vet bill. Because the leash law breaker grabbed his dog and split without even an appology. I think folks have their fears all mixed up. It’s not the sharks you should be fearing. It’s the leash law breakers and their unleashed dogs.

  • Laura

    So sorry to hear this! My family has been going to Topsail for almost 25 years and never had an incident. I hope it doesn’t ruin swimming in the ocean for her. She sounds pretty resilient!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    ….is “Jaws.”

    I mean, if we can have posters comparing state troopers to “what Sheriff Andy would have done,” we shouldn’t be surprised that other experts expect beach communities to follow Chief Brody’s example.

    That poster probably thinks the girl heard cello music before she was bitten!

  • Terri

    Is the person serious about “posting a warning” My goodness, it’s nature!

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