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Virginia woman attacked by shark in Florida 'continues to make progress,' church says

'Her faith is what’s getting her through, coupled with countless other blessings'
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jun 09, 2024

GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- A Virginia woman critically injured in a shark attack along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Friday "continues to make progress," according to an update from her church in Glen Allen.

Winns Baptist Church, where Elisabeth Foley is a member, said she was vacationing with her family in Walton County, Florida, when she was attacked by a shark.

The 45-year-old wife and mother of three suffered severe injuries to her midsection and the loss of her left hand.

Ryan Foley told the congregation Saturday that his wife was "hanging in there and has a super positive attitude," according to the church.

"She got banged up pretty good. Thank the Lord she is so tough and in great physical condition. Her faith is what’s getting her through, coupled with countless other blessings," he wrote.

Her family is accepting donations to help cover medical costs. Click here to make a donation.

"All donations will be given directly to her family to help cover medical and logistical expenses while Elisabeth begins the road to recovery," officials with the church said.

Foley's husband also wrote, "Please continue praying."

First responders remove an injured woman from the beach after she was bitten by a shark in Walton County, Florida, on Friday.
Walton Beach Florida

The Virginia woman was the first person attacked by a shark in Walton County on Friday afternoon.

She was bitten by a shark near WaterSound Beach and suffered critical injuries to her midsection and part of her arm had to be amputated, according to South Walton Fire Chief Ryan Crawford.

Less than two hours later, firefighters responded to another beach about 4 miles east of the first attack “following multiple reports of a teenager injured by a shark,” the sheriff’s office said.

Shark Attack Walton County, Florida

Two teenage girls were in waist-deep water with a group of friends when they were attacked, the South Walton Fire District said.

“When lifeguards and deputies arrived on scene, they found one of the females had significant injuries to the upper leg and one hand,” fire officials said in an update. She was flown to a trauma center. The other teen had what officials described as minor injuries on one of her feet.

There's no way of knowing whether it was one shark or two separate ones involved in Friday's attacks, but there are more sharks in the Gulf of Mexico than in past years, Chapman said.

Shark Attack Walton County, Florida

The time of the attacks — in the middle of the afternoon — was also an anomaly, Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said. Sheriff's officials often warn people to be aware of sharks early in the morning and at dusk, their typical feeding times, he noted.

Also Friday, in Hawaii, a woman was seriously injured in an apparent shark attack in the waters off the island of Oahu, officials said.

Shark attacks are rare, according to experts. There were 69 unprovoked bites last year worldwide, and 10 of those were fatal, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. That was higher than the recent average of six deaths per year.

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