Stei was in about waist-deep water, approximately 30 yards from shore when the attack occurred. The Daily Mail reports that the German tourist had been swimming with a friend when the shark came and took a bite out of Stei's left thigh. Stei attempted to swim to shore as witnesses said a pool of blood could be seen in the water.
Lifeguard Erik Toomsoo helped bring Stei onto land, yelling for those already on land to call 911. According to the lifeguard, the shark's bite went right down to the woman's bone. The shark had severed Stei's femoral artery.
Luckily for Stei, a Martin County Fire Rescue LifeStar helicopter had been in the area when a paramedic spotted the blood in the water. The helicopter brought the woman to the hospital where she underwent emergency surgery, reported the Daily Mail.
According to Toomsoo, a shark in the waters this time of year is typical due to the bait fish in the area. The feeding on these fish can draw the sharks pretty close to shore.
Besides the bait fish being in the area, Grant Gilmore, senior scientist with Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science in Vero Beach, explains that the time of day may also have a large impact in attacks.
Time of day is a big driver of bait, Gilmore explained to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Bait fish will be closer to shore early in morning and late in the afternoon due to penetration of light into the water. When the sun is at low angles to the water, the bait can be more easily seen by the predators below them, and the bait cannot see the predators, so they move toward shore at those times of day.
The type of shark that attacked Karin Ulrike Stei is currently unknown. It is the first shark attack on the beach in 10 years.
It was just a freak accident, Toomsoo told News12. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm just glad we were there.
To see pictures of the horrific shark attack, click here.