Despite being bitten by a shark on Friday, 6-year-old Ella Morris is very upbeat and happy as she sits with her mother,
Despite being bitten by a shark on Friday, 6-year-old Ella Morris is very upbeat and happy as she sits with her mother, Heidi Morris, and brother Jackson, 8, at their Marietta home.
Photo by Laura Moon
EAST COBB - Six-year-old Ella Morris is a tough little girl. Maybe it's because she has two older brothers, or maybe there's just something special inside her. Still, when she was bitten by a shark in the waters off Fripp Island, S.C., last Friday, she didn't even shed a tear.
"I thought it was a jellyfish," Ella Morris said, as she sat on top of the kitchen counter in her northeast Cobb home, swinging her bandaged right leg in the air. "I don't remember it happening, I just remember my Daddy taking me to the beach."
Ella and her family were vacationing last week at Fripp Island, near Hilton Head Island, with three other families. On Friday - the day before the families were planning to head home - Ella was sitting on top of a boogie board around 1 p.m., her legs dangling on both sides as she floated about 50 yards out into the ocean, said her mother, Heidi Morris.
"She had been out there for about 10 minutes by herself, then my husband, Craig, decided to go out there to be with her. He was only about chest deep, just talking to her while she played," Heidi said.
As Craig Morris, a landscape developer with HighGrove Partners of Austell caught up with his daughter, he felt something bump his legs, Heidi said. Within seconds, that something grabbed onto Ella's right leg and pulled her off her boogie board and under the water, she said.
"Luckily, Craig was able to grab onto her as soon as it happened, and when he saw all the blood in the water, he closed his hand around her open wound, squeezed it tightly, and carried her to shore. I can't imagine what would have happened had he not been there, and really don't want to," Heidi said.
Heidi, who owns Boot Camp in the Park, had taken their two sons, Jackson, 8, and Park, 9, on a hike and was walking up on the beach when she saw one of their family friends, Molly Peterka of east Cobb, wave and run up to Heidi.
"She just said something cut her in the water, and they were going to take her to see a paramedic," Heidi said.
Coincidentally, Molly's husband had suffered heat stroke early in the vacation, so they knew that there was a paramedic at the nearby fire station - much closer than any hospital.
Once reaching the paramedics, they realized a shark had bitten Molly.
"They just said it was really bad, and we've been told by the size of the bite that the shark was probably about four or five feet long, probably a baby shark. And she has such tiny little legs, we're lucky it wasn't bigger," Heidi said. The doctors at Beaufort Memorial Hospital said Ella did not suffer any bone or nerve damage from the bite, Heidi said.
Throughout most of the ordeal, though, Ella stayed calm, and dry-eyed, Heidi said - until it was time to stitch her up with 22 stitches. But first, doctors used a medicinal cleaner on the wound.
"That really hurt, more than the bite. It just really, really stung," Ella said.
Ella was at the hospital for three hours, and Heidi said that after she posted a picture that same day on Facebook with a picture of the wound, word began to spread.
Ella can move the leg, but doctors want her to avoid walking on it for a few more days.
"She still can't walk for a few days, but she's even wearing a shirt with a shark on it. And on the way back, she was so cute, just saying that it wasn't the shark's fault, it was just an accident. It doesn't even seem to phase her," Heidi said.
Today, Ella's shark bite has become a "cool thing" to her brothers, and she continues to enjoy her summer.
"I'll go back out on the beach and swim," Ella said. "It doesn't really scare me."
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