Texas South Padre Island shark attack survivor says her leg is ‘pretty much gone’

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A Texas woman who says her leg is “pretty much gone” after being bitten by a shark on South Padre Island on the Fourth of July is now opening up about the terrifying encounter.

Tabatha Sullivent of Celina is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday as she is recovering in a hospital in McAllen, according to FOX 4. 

“I turned around and saw something dark in the water. And I thought it was a big fish, and I was going to kick it away. That’s when it grabbed me,” Sullivent told the station. 

“I think it let go of me, and I was able to start swimming to the beach with one leg and my arms. It didn’t grab me there. Then I got closer to the beach, and people started pulling me out. My husband had me first. But then he dropped me because the shark was in a pursuit,” she continued. 


Texas shark attack survivors

Tabatha Sullivent and her husband Cary are seen recovering following the July 4 shark attack on South Padre Island, Texas. (Courtesy Tabitha Sullivent/FOX 4)

 “My leg is pretty much gone,” Sullivent also told FOX 4, saying that “if I didn’t have people pulling me out … I don’t think it would’ve stopped.” 

Sullivent told the station that she was targeted by the shark while she and her daughter were near a sandbar, before her husband fended it off. 


Texas shark in water

A shark is seen close to the shore in South Padre Island, Texas, on Thursday, July 4. (AP/Texas Department of Public Safety)

“While they were treating her, the shark was right there … in probably knee-deep water,” witness Kyle Jud told the local outlet.

Sullivent’s husband Cary is at his wife’s bedside while recovering from shark bites that he suffered on his leg, FOX 4 reported. 

Texas woman bitten by shark

A shark is seen near the shore of South Padre Island, Texas, on Thursday, July 4, 2024. Shark bite victim Tabatha Sullivent is shown on the right. (Katie McMillan/AP/KDFW)


The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department said in a statement that “two people were bitten and two people encountered the shark but were not seriously injured” during the incident last Thursday. 

“Shark encounters of this nature are not a common occurrence in Texas. When bites from sharks do occur, they are usually a case of mistaken identity by sharks looking for food,” the agency added. “If you see large schools of bait near the shore, this typically [sic] an indicator a predator is nearby, or if you see a shark in the water, calmly exit the water and wait for the predatory wildlife to pass.” 

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