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    Shark Attacks Girl Off Outer Banks

The Associated Press
Friday, July 7, 2000; 10:53 p.m. EDT

PINE ISLAND, N.C. A girl vacationing with her family on the Outer Banks was attacked by a shark in shallow water, leaving her with a 9-inch crescent-shaped gash that required more than 300 stitches.

"I thought that someone was grabbing me," 12-year-old Ashley Walker of Chillicothe, Ohio, said Friday of the attack off Currituck a day earlier. "It didn't really hurt."

Ashley had never seen the ocean until she arrived here July 1 with a group of 15 friends and relatives who rented a cottage on the northern barrier island.

She was playing in the surf at about 4:30 p.m. when she felt something brush against her, and then a tug. Blood filled the water, but she didn't realize how badly she'd been hurt until she reached the shore and saw the gash on her right calf.

Marshall Cherry, Corolla fire chief and director of Corolla Ocean Rescue, said no one saw the fish, but a doctor and emergency personnel had little doubt it was a shark.

"We are assuming it's a tiger shark," Cherry said. He guessed the shark had been following fish that came in with Gulf Stream waters and got closer than usual to shore.

Ashley sustained no torn muscles or ligaments and is expected to make a complete recovery, said her mother, Wanda Walker. But Ashley said once was enough for her.

"I'm not going back in," she said.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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