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Teen hits out at bystanders who filmed her rather than helping when her arm was ripped off by a shark

A 15-year-old Brazilian girl who lost her arm in a horrific shark attack has rebuked the bystanders who took the opportunity to film the grisly scene rather than helping her.

Kaylanne Timoteo Freitas was attacked at Piedade Beach in Brazil on 6 March. She was swimming off the beach when a shark latched onto her stomach. She began fighting the creature, but it bit her again, tearing her arm off near her left elbow.

“At the time, I thought someone was playing a prank on me because there were many people around me,” she told local news outlets, per The Daily Star. “I still had doubts. I thought, ‘this isn’t happening to me. It’s a nightmare.’ I thought I was going to wake up. It was only in the ambulance that it sunk in.”

Kaylanne said a young man who was swimming nearby heard her distress and helped pull her from the water, where they waited for first responders to arrive.

Once they were on the beach, Kaylanne — who was screaming in pain and bleeding profusely from her severed limb — noticed that many bystanders were standing around recording her agony on their phones.

The incident left her furious.

“No one respected me at the time,” she said. “I understand that it’s something that everyone wants to record, to show what’s happening. But at the time, I wasn’t thinking about that. I just thought I was going to lose my arm for the rest of my life.”

Her father expressed similar disgust with the public's reaction to his daughter's injury.

"During the attack, there were people filming instead of helping, aside from the comments. That’s what killed me inside,” he said.

Kaylanne Timoteo Freitas, 15, with her father, Wilque Barros Freitas, discussing her injuries following a shark attack (screengrab/CEN)
Kaylanne Timoteo Freitas, 15, with her father, Wilque Barros Freitas, discussing her injuries following a shark attack (screengrab/CEN)

Kaylanne was airlifted to a hospital, where she underwent reconstructive surgery and was eventually released. She said that she is still suffering from pain and panic attacks in the wake of the incident.

“For 15 years of my life, I had my entire arm,” she said. “I’ve been reborn and will have to relearn everything all over again.”

Her attack was the second violent encounter at the beach between a shark and a swimmer in a 24 hour period. The day before her attack a 14-year-old boy was swimming approximately 1,600 feet from where Kaylanne would later lose her arm. He was also bit by a shark, leaving him with injuries that forced local medical staff to amputate his right leg.

Paramedic Marcelo Alves told The Sun that local authorities restricted swimming at the beach in 2021 due to the frequency of shark attacks, but noted that people still swim there regardless.

“The team is already alert about these events that have been happening,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is a law that says that swimming is not allowed, but people insist on going into the sea.”