Seventy-three-year-old Heidi Ernst, an American scuba diver whose leg was amputated when she was bitten by a shark in Grand Bahama last week, is defending the Grand Bahama Scuba Dive Center after it was hit with hate mails and negative reviews.
“They are not only the best dive shop but also saved my life,” she retorted.
Ernest said of the criticisms levelled against the scuba dive company since the attack, “They do not deserve this and it really pisses me off…It is uncalled for and so hurtful to people, my friends to be under attack.”
Ernst was climbing a ladder after finishing her dive when a shark grabbed her by the leg.
“I didn’t even see him approach me. He came from below, and it was just like a truck hit me. It was just like a scene out of a horror movie,” she told ABC7NY.
Ernst, an experienced scuba diver, then struck the shark to get it to open its jaw and praised her friend for his quick thinking in saving her life.
She was stabilized at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport and then taken by air ambulance to Jackson Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, FL. The extent of the wound and the infection required Ernest’s left leg amputation.
“She [the doctor] reconnected the nerves to muscles which promotes a good outcome with less pain and things like neuromas. And then she closed it up. Post-surgery is very painful and they had difficulty controlling my pain for almost two days,” she said.
Friends are seeking to raise $30,000 to assist with her medical expenses not covered by insurance, travel expenses to get her back home, travel expenses to get her to and from therapy appointments when she has returned home and other modifications needed in her home for physical assistance.
Ernst’s horror details circulated the international media and may have spurred criticisms at the dive company. “It was harmless consent on my part and now friends are being attacked. Please if you hear anyone badmouthing them, stop it in its tracks.”
Ernst said she will continue diving and has been looking for fins suited for amputees.