Suburban teen survives shark attack in Bahamas

An ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
HOMER GLEN, Ill. (WLS) -- Johnny Stoch is back home in southwest suburban Homer Glen, Ill., after surviving a shark attack while vacationing in the Bahamas.

The Stoch family has a message to share: paradise can turn into hell in a single second. In an instant their Caribbean family vacation turned into a race to save their 15-year-old son's leg and life.

"I kicked its nose and it went up to get me again and then it let go and swam away," Johnny said.

Video shows Johnny snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean as part of the island adventure he shared with his younger brother Jacob, mother and father. Then everything changed.

"My wife started to scream hysterically that there's a shark," said John Stoch.

"I saw a big gray head about a foot wide and it was on my leg, tearing through," Johnny recalled.

"My wife has got Jacob and is trying to push him to the boat to get out of the water because, I mean, now there's blood spilled everywhere," John said.

Johnny swam toward the boat and that's when his father saw the extent of his son's injury.

"They pull him out and when I see his leg my heart is up here. I start swimming as fast as I can to the boat," John said.

The wound, too gruesome to show, was severe. Doctors reconstructed the calf muscle - a chunk was missing.

"I thought it was bone. I thought my whole leg was almost gone, but turns out it wasn't," Johnny said. "I really want to thank the doctor that saved my leg because without him I wouldn't have one. Dr. Downs."

Johnny has always admired sharks, and when asked about the one that bit him he still smiles.

"I don't blame it at all. I still like them, I'm not afraid of them!" he said.

It took the Stochs about an hour to get Johnny to the hospital in a pickup truck. It's another lesson for families, they said: be prepared for anything.

Johnny is set to start his sophomore year of high school in Lockport, Ill.
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