A young mother swimming off the coast of Mexico was killed while saving her 5-year-old daughter from a shark, which bit off the woman’s leg, causing her to bleed out on the beach.
A distressing video was shared on social media over the weekend, showing the shark attack victim sprawled out on the sand in the town of Melaque Saturday after being carried from the Pacific Ocean to safety by rescuers.
Horrified bystanders could be heard shouting off-camera: “She’s lost her leg.”
The woman has been identified locally as 26-year-old Maria Fernandez Martinez Jimenez, a former marine biology student at the University of Guadalajara, who lived in the area in the western state of Jalisco.
Jimenez was in the ocean with her daughter when she apparently became aware of a shark in the water and rushed to boost the girl onto a floating play platform located 75 feet from the shore, said Rafael Araiza, the head of the local civil defense office.
The mom had just managed to get her 5-year-old out of harm’s way when the apex predator struck, clamping its jaws around her leg near the hip.
Despite a quick response by rescuers, Jimenez died of blood loss from the massive wound, Ariaza confirmed. Her daughter escaped unharmed.
It was not immediately known what species of shark was responsible for the deadly attack.
The harrowing incident occurred while a swimming race was taking place nearby, Civil Protection officials in the municipality of Cihuatlan stated.
“Our officials were carrying out support activities during a swimming event in the bay when they received reports of a person who was having problems getting out of the sea,” the statement read. “When they reached the area they discovered a woman who was lifeless with one of her legs amputated, apparently following a shark attack.”
Authorities closed the beaches in Melaque and the nearby town of Barra de Navidad to swimming as a precaution.
Shark attacks are relatively rare in Mexico. In 2019, a US diver survived a shark bite on the forearm in Magdalena Bay off the Baja California Sur coast.
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This article by Snejana Farberov was first published by The New York Post on 4 December 2023. Lead Image: Photo © James R.D. Scott / Getty Images. This blue shark is one of about 270 species of ground sharks, a group of sharks that also includes hammerhead sharks.