Cassidy Cartwright was swimming at North Topsail Beach Sunday when a shark bit her leg. Her parents feared the worst.
"That she was gonna lose her leg," Cassidy's mom, Carolyn Cartwright, said. "I thought for sure, I didn't think there was any way they were going to be able to put it back together."
Doctors at UNC Hospitals were able to save Cassidy's leg even though she suffered severed tendons, including her Achilles. The experience was terrifying for the family, but it's what Carolyn saw a few hours later, on the same day of the attack, that prompted her to take action.
"I looked out the back window of the beach house and seen that there are about six boys playing in that same exact area where she had been bit," Carolyn said. "And I thought, I can't believe they didn't clear this beach, I can't believe they didn't clear this area."
Steve Foster, the town manager for North Topsail Beach, says the town does not have a policy in place to notify swimmers of shark bites and neither do other beach towns without lifeguards. However, swimmers are warned about other dangers.
"When there's areas where there's jelly fish, they will let swimmers know that that's the situation," Foster said.
ABC11 Eyewitness News asked why the same type of notification is not given when someone is bitten by a shark.
"I don't have an answer to that, other than it's a rare situation," Foster replied. "We have a length of beach we have to take care of. We have limited personnel to work with, and we certainly don't have the money to provide lifeguards all up and down the beach."
That answer isn't good enough for Esther Bordas, who feels she should be informed about a shark bite.
"You want to be prepared about your safety and you want to be alerted," Bordas said.
However, some swimmers like Fred Rice say there are risks you take by venturing into the ocean.
"Sharks live in the ocean, and we go in the ocean and we're gonna get bitten now and then," Rice said.
North Topsail Beach says shark attacks at its beach are rare but because there is no reporting requirement, we might not have an accurate idea of how rare bites are.