Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect the amount of time that Aaron Williams visited with Paige Winter.
New Bern High School students are putting together a fundraiser Tuesday evening for a fellow student who lost a leg and some fingers to a shark on Sunday.
Paige Winter, 17, was attacked by a shark at a beach near Fort Macon Park at about 12:20 p.m. Sunday. She was rescued by her father, Charlie Winter, who punched the fish five times to force it to let her go according to her grandmother Janet Winter, but suffered severe lacerations to her hand, leg, abdomen and torso.
Flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, her leg was amputated above the knee. Marcie Winter, a relative, noted in Facebook that “ Paige is out of surgery and awake, she’s still pretty groggy but cracking jokes.”
Advocating for the species that attacked her, Marcie also reported that “(Paige) wants everyone to know that sharks are still good people.”
It wasn’t the first time Charlie Winter stepped risked his life to help someone. In 2013, while working as a firefighter with Havelock Fire and Rescue, he saved a 2-year-old child from a burning home, a story covered in the Sun Journal.
A GoFundMe page titled “Prayers for Paige” has been set up for Paige and her family to raise funds to meet medical expenses as she recovers. “ The site listed a goal of $5,000 but had already raised $5,750 in 11 hours. The goal was changed Monday afternoon to $25,000 and a total of $10,224 was raise by Monday afternoon.
The author of the page added that, “Charlie, Paige’s father, Marine, Firefighter, and Paramedic has served his Country and his community for the last 20 years. Now it’s time for us to rally around him and his family to help them in their time of need.”
But Paige’s high school friends are also stepping up with a fundraiser.
Aaron Williams, theater teacher with New Bern High School, said Paige is a definite “diehard theater and chorus person” who he has directed in two student productions, the most recent being April’s “Little Shop of Horrors” musical.
Williams said he has called her at the hospital and spent a couple of hours Monday with her. “She is a lovely and beautiful person inside and out,” he said. “She is unique. She loves to dye her hair and paint her nails – the more glitter the better.”
He described her as a talented singer and actress “who is extremely loved… her friends at school have had breakdowns along with some of us teachers,” he added, “But we are rallying to keep her spirits high and to know that we are there for her.”
He said his students have set a theater performance at the high school stage for 6:30 p.m., June 4th. Run by the intermediate and advanced theater students, it will present pieces written, directed and cast by the students. “We will be taking donations for the family to help alleviate the costs incurred by this event,” Williams said.