Mother of Alabama teen shark victim: It was a terrible accident, but ‘God was there’

Published 11:00 pm Sunday, June 9, 2024

The mother of an Alabama teenage girl who was attacked by a shark Friday wrote details Sunday of the horrific attack her daughter sustained.

Ann Blair Gribbin wrote the harrowing account of her daughter Lulu Gribbin’s shark attack. She wrote the account on the Caring Bridge site early Sunday.

Lulu, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, was one of two teen girls injured in a shark attack Friday in Walton County, Florida. An adult woman was critically injured approximately 90 minutes earlier, police said.

Here is what Ann Blair Gibbin’s wrote about her daughter’s ordeal:

Today is Sunday June 9,2024 and I wanted to share Lulu Gribbins story so that everyone can continue to pray for this sweet and beautiful child of ours. Lulu and her twin sister, Ellie, and I headed down from Birmingham to the beach with some of their friends and their moms on Wednesday June 5. It was our first mother daughter beach trip, and we were all incredibly excited. Our first two days were amazing on the beach being with friends and going to dinners.

Friday, we decided to walk down from where we were staying right outside Rosemary Beach for lunch. After lunch we were walking back on the beach to the girls and everyone on the beach was standing looking out into the water. No one was in the water and all we heard was there was a shark and we started to look as well. My friend called both her daughters and they were not answering so she started to panic and said there is something wrong and started running and so we all did. The beach was packed with people just looking. I came up on a group of people surrounding someone on the ground and looked down and it was Lulu who was there. Ellie found me and said Mom its Lulu. I saw her wounds on her leg and started to scream. She was lifeless her eyes closed mouth white and pale. The wound on her leg or all that was left of her leg was something out of a movie. I finally made it back to her and held her hand and she saw me, and I told her I was there. Her eyes were open. I had no idea how long she had been there or what had happened. Almost immediately the beach truck was there and the EMT’s loaded her onto a board and put her back in the truck and wheeled her off, she was air lifted away. One of my Mom friends immediately got me and Ellie up to house and in the car. We were told she was going one place and then finally got an answer she was going to Sacred Heart in Pensacola. This was an hour and 20-minute drive. We prayed the entire way. My friend who was driving was a God send for me and Ellie and knew exactly what to pray. All I could say over and over was please be alive please breathe. No one we called could give us any information.

We got to Sacred Heart and Lulu was already in surgery, but they answered my prayer that she was alive, and her vitals were good. Joe met me there and we waited for the surgeons to come and talk to us. Once they did we were informed that the shark had bitten off Lulu’s left hand and that they had to amputate her right leg halfway up from her knee to her hip. She also had lost 2/3 of the blood in her body. Of course, no one wants that for your child but she is alive. They also told us that Lulu may be intubated for the next week or so and would need 4-5 surgeries to finalize her amputations.

Yesterday, Saturday Lulu did not have surgery like we expected and her vitals were exactly what the team of doctors and nurses wanted. She did so well that they ended up taking the tube out of her throat and she was breathing on her own. This was a first big step. Once she was settled her first words to us were ” I made it.” And boy she did.

Lulu relived the story of what happened on the beach that day. There were 6 friends all at the first sand bar about waist high looking for sand dollars. Probably like the hundreds of other people in the water that day. I am not sure who noticed the shark first, but Lulu said it bit her hand and then her leg and then went for her other friend and got her foot. Lulu said a man grabbed her other arm and pulled her out and another younger boy helped him carry her to shore. Once on the shore there were two doctors and two other young women one of whom was a nurse who were all surrounding Lulu. These individuals put tourniquets on Lulus wounds. Which I believe was crucial to saving Lulu’s life. She was then taken by the beach truck and airlifted to Sacred Heart in Pensacola where we are now.

I am eternally grateful for the 3 surgeons and all the nursing staff and doctors here at this hospital who saved Lulu. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses on the beach that day. I am grateful for the EMT’s on the beach and the crew in the air. I am grateful for the individual who pulled her out of the water. At this point we will have multiple surgeries in the days to come and our lives will be forever changed. Lulu is strong, beautiful, brave and so many more things I can’t count. God has a plan for her, and we will be there to support her every way we can.

We appreciate the outpouring of love and support that we have been shown. All the text messages, videos, instagrams, facebook posts, calls etc have lifted us all up. Please continue to pray for Lulu. Pray for her to have strength to get through whatever is coming her way. Pray for her healing to be fast and pain to be as minimal as possible. She is worried about not fitting in and people making fun of her. I need prayers for everyone to be understanding and to show her grace. I also need prayers for Lulu to know that her hand and her leg do not define who she is. Please pray for Joe and I to give her strength and be the rock she needs. Pray for us to have the right words to lift her up and encourage her. I also would like prayers for all the girls that were on the beach with her and the trauma they have endured. Sweet Lulu is more worried for her friends than she is herself, which is a testament to her character.

I know this was a terrible accident, but God was there and had the people there who helped save her life. Lulu said she felt God in the back of the beach truck. She is truly a miracle. We have a long road ahead and our journey is just beginning!