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Shark Week 2020 | 'I was Prey: Terrors From The Deep': Tiffany Johnson revisits her 'face to face' encounter

A happy day at Charlotte Beach, North Carolina turned into a nightmare for Tiffany Johnson
Tiffany Johnson (Discovery Channel)
Tiffany Johnson (Discovery Channel)

A happy day at Charlotte Beach, North Carolina turned into a nightmare for Tiffany Johnson. Tiffany recounted her experience of being brutally attacked by a shark while swimming in the sea and how she managed to survive. This experience was recalled as part of Discovery Channel's Shark Week 2020 show, 'I Was Prey: Terrors From The Deep'. 

Tiffany was blissfully enjoying the coral reefs and watching the fish. Her husband JJ had to go back to the boat that they had rented as he didn't feel too well. "I said I would stay out here. I was 30 feet from the boat. I was floating and enjoying the boat, enjoying the coral reef. I was getting lost in that."

And then, things took a dark turn. "Out of the blue, I felt as if I had bumped into something. I turned to look, and that's when I was face to face with a shark. We were nose to nose, all of a sudden, he had my whole arm in his mouth. He wasn't thrashing, he was just waiting for me to react. I reacted instinctively, by yanking my arm, and that's when everything happened so quickly. He began to thrash, and I was screaming through my snorkel. He latched on my arm, shy of my elbow. Everything was in slow motion. I felt my body give up."

Tiffany felt that she couldn't fight anymore. "I started letting go and having mental images of my children and husband. It was like a movie reel. That was when I made the decision that I was not going to die here. I felt the strength coming from inside me. He was thrashing, pulling and fighting. My arm had gone, it was just a mangled stump. I was at the surface of the water, I flipped off my snorkel mask, and I made my way back to the boat, with my dominant arm, my other one had been severed."

She swam away, and JJ had already jumped off the boat and was trying to pull her in. "I reached the boat and my husband pulled me in. I landed in the boat, I felt like I was in a thick tangible cloud of peace. It was so strong. I didn't go into shock, I didn't lose consciousness and I wasn't crying. I just looked at my husband to give me something to stop the bleeding."

"He grabbed the beach towel and he wraps it, and I tell him tighter, and I feel the blood dripping everywhere. There was no cell phone service and we had no way of informing people we were coming. The main port was 20 minutes away. The captain was just gunning it." They made it to the port and she was taken to the hospital. 

After the accident, Tiffany was flown to the United States for further care. However, this was an entirely new surgery for the doctors and it took several hours. Nevertheless, Tiffany had an emotional reunion with her children and she just felt so grateful to be alive.

They learnt that the shark that attacked her was probably a Tiger one, and there was an investigation on why there was a shark in the sea, as there never had been before. 'I was Prey: Terrors From The Deep' airs on Discovery Channel on Saturdays at 9 pm.