(CHICAGO) — A Chicago-area teen has returned home to Illinois after a near-deadly encounter with a shark while on vacation in the Bahamas forced the 15-year-old to undergo emergency surgery to save his leg.
Johnny Stoch, of Homer Glen, Illinois, was snorkeling off the coast of the Bahamas with his family when a shark attacked him.
“I kicked its nose and it went up to get me again and then it let go and swam away,” Johnny told Chicago’s ABC7.
“My wife started to scream hysterically that there’s a shark,” said Johnny’s father John Stoch.
“I saw a big gray head about a foot wide and it was on my leg, tearing through,” said Johnny, who will soon begin his sophmore year of high school in Lockport, Illinois.
The teen’s horrified mother jumped into action, John said: “My wife has got Jacob and is trying to push him to the boat to get out of the water because, I mean, now there’s blood spilled everywhere.”
John saw the extent of his son’s injury once the teen started swimming toward the boat.
“They pull him out and when I see his leg — my heart is up here,” he said. “I start swimming as fast as I can to the boat.”
Doctors were forced to reconstruct his calf muscle after a large chunk was missing.
“I thought it was bone,” Johnny said. “I thought my whole leg was almost gone, but turns out it wasn’t.”
Needless to say, Johnny is grateful to be alive and to still have his leg.
“I really want to thank the doctor that saved my leg,” said Johnny, holding back tears, “because without him I wouldn’t have one. Dr. Downs.”
Despite his terrifying encounter, Johnny says he remains a fan of sharks.
“I don’t blame [the shark] at all. I still like them. I’m not afraid of them,” he said.
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