OAK ISLAND, N.C. – When Kiersten Yow was attacked by a shark at Oak Island earlier this month, those first few moments were crucial.
The 12-year-old is from Archdale and had it not been for the quick reactions of strangers – her story might have ended much differently.
A medic from Charlotte named Marie Hilbreth happened to be on vacation at the time. When Hilbreth heard “Shark Attack,” her 11 years of training kicked in.
“She is a very strong girl,” the medic said, describing Yow. “Yesterday, she walked for the first time…and we thought she was going to lose her leg.”
Hilbreth says that day on Oak Island was a day she saw true courage as Yow fought for her life after being attacked by a shark.
After the attack, Hilbreth ran over and saw Yow on the beach bleeding profusely from one of her arms and leg.
“We took string off a boogie board and someone handed me string off a tent,” she said. “We tied off as much as we could.
Hilbreth says to keep Yow alert, she kept asking the girl questions, but credits the girl’s parents for helping keep her calm.
“Her parents did an amazing job, keeping cool, not showing emotion, and supporting her. That can really change a situation,” the medic said.
Hilbreth says her own mother ran down the beach to warn everyone and asked them to let others know.
“My mom actually was looking toward the water and saw the shark fin,” she said.
Hilbreth says they only later learned 16-year-old Hunter Treschel was also attacked on the same beach about 90 minutes later and less than two miles away.
Treschel lost his arm. Yow also lost a portion of an arm and is still recovering at the hospital.
For Hilbreth, seeing Yow fight through this experience — and turn it into inspiration — is an experience she will always hold close to her heart.