UNION, Ky. — A Northern Kentucky teen's spring break took an unexpected turn when he was bitten by a shark while visiting Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Blake Berry, 17, said a fraction of an inch could have changed his life forever.
"It turned out to be a fourth of an inch away from hitting a major artery, which probably would've led to me bleeding out, possibly losing my foot or even dying, “ Berry said. “I’m super grateful. “
The Cooper High School senior said he and his friends were swimming in the ocean when he felt a clamp on his ankle.
"I was kind of standing there perplexed for about five seconds," Berry said. "I didn't think it was that bad until we got out of the water. I looked down at my ankle and see there was no ankle to be saw.”
He's now on crutches with up to 60 stitches in his foot.
"My healing's going okay, I'll be just fine," he said.
Based on the bite pattern and teeth marks, doctors said Berry was likely bitten by an 8 to 10 feet long bull shark.
"A shark bite is pretty uncommon, but it is their home,” said Joethan Phillips with Gulf Shores Beach Safety. “When we're in that open water we know there's a chance."
Phillips said the shark was probably a juvenile unable to identify its prey.
"They think they're looking for food,” Phillips said. “They may have been chasing something, saw that and took a bite. Then decided it wasn't what it likes to eat and left.”
Berry said the bite will not stop him from going back to the beach.
"If I could swim, I’d go tomorrow,” Berry said. “I’m not really caught up about it. I love the ocean.”
He said the bite is encouraging him to look at life differently.
"I think I started to live life more passionately and more vivaciously," Berry said. "I started to not take it for granted as much."
The Union native is finishing up his spring break with his family in New Orleans.