A young child from Port St. Lucie was bitten by a shark at Bathtub Reef Beach in Martin County on Sunday.
“You hear of it, but you never think it’s going to happen to someone close to you," said Richard Traychuk, the child's mother's boyfriend.
Traychuk said the family went to Bathtub Reef Beach to enjoy a fun day. He said his girlfriend, Jessica Veatch, was in the water with her 3-year-old daughter, Violet, when it happened.
"She went out there. She was about two feet away from her. She heard Violet scream," Traychuk said. "She turned around. Picked her up. Thought she had stepped on something and when she picked her up out of the water, she was missing a big chunk of her leg."
According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the child was flown to the hospital with leg injuries.
"Down to the bone. It was like a big hole," Traychuk said.
Bathtub Beach will be closed for the remainder of Sunday.
"I just didn’t expect it, especially in a place like that," Traychuk said. "It just seems like a real safe environment to swim."
Traychuk said just before Violet was bit, he had seen some teenagers spearfishing nearby. He said he watched them drag a fish they had caught through the water.
"It doesn't take a brain scientist to know that you shouldn't bring bloody fish probably where people are swimming," he said.
Traychuk said a friend who was also at Bathtub Beach Sunday saw a fin in the water following the bite.
"He said he saw a shark right on this side of the reef, a fin," he said. "He thought it was pretty big like a 5- or 6-foot shark."
Traychuk said Violet is in stable condition and being transported to the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Mary's Medical Center after surgery on her leg.
"The doctors are amazing after we saw the picture of the surgery and putting it all back together," he said. "He said there might still be complications though due to the flap of the skin and putting it back on the wound."
He said a plastic surgeon will evaluate the wound Monday and Violet is expected to stay in the hospital for several more weeks.
“Violet’s a fighter, so she’s going to be OK," Traychuk said.