Tatyana Koltunyuk, a shark victim on Rockaway Beach, recalls the attack

The elderly woman who lost 20 pounds of flesh in New York’s first shark attack since the 1950s earlier this month vividly recalls her attacker’s “green and dirty” teeth and the “blood cloud” that bloomed in the water, when he said she, her daughter, bite.

Tatyana Koltunyuk’s daughter Dasha said her mother recalled drastic details about the shark attack that took place while swimming at Rockaway Beach in Queens on the evening of August 7.

“[She] “She felt something slam against her hard, and then she saw the shark look at her belly up,” Dasha told Good Morning America of the moment her mother encountered the predator.

“She saw all the teeth. She described how green and dirty they were. And then the shark attacked. She remembers a cloud of blood in the water.

“The fact that she’s alive is a miracle,” added the grateful daughter.

Koltunyuk felt her “lost energy” as the shark grabbed her thigh and counted to nine to get back to shore, Dasha explained.

Tatyana Koltunyuk.
Tatyana Koltunyuk, 65, narrowly survived a shark attack on August 7.

Dasha Koltunyuk (right) and her husband Gregg Kallor were seated "Good morning America" to talk about her mother's attack.
Dasha Koltunyuk (right) and her husband Gregg Kallor sat down with Good Morning America to speak out about their mother’s attack.
abc news

Koltunyuk credits her survival to a quick-thinking police officer who made a makeshift tourniquet to stop bleeding from the grisly wound before first responders arrived, she said.

The family shared a somber picture of Koltunyuk in the hospital, with the white-haired woman lying pale in bed.

“The surgeon said he’d never seen anything like it,” Koltuntuk’s son-in-law Gregg Kallor recalled of the surgeon’s reaction to the deep incision that exposed the artery, muscle and much of the femur.

Koltunyuk in an undated photo in the hospital after the gruesome attack.
Koltunyuk in an undated photo in the hospital after the gruesome attack.
Courtesy of the family

Koltunyuk’s family says they are convinced they were attacked by a great white shark.

The tooth marks around her injury suggested a bull or thresher shark, although a great white shark could not be ruled out, a source familiar with the incident previously told The Post.

“My mother loves nature and animals. And I think she wants me to tell the public not to hate sharks, but to do whatever it takes to swim safely,” Dasha said.

Tatyana Koltunyuk is treated by rescue workers on the beach.
Koltunyuk owes her survival to the quick-thinking officer who made a makeshift tourniquet.
NY Post

Koltunyuk’s remarkably positive attitude extends to her recovery, which doctors say will take years.

In the four weeks since the attack, she has already endured seven operations and will have to undergo at least one more.

Despite the long road ahead, Koltunyuk, who became a single mother with her daughter and late husband shortly after immigrating to New York from Odessa, Ukraine, in the 1990s, assured her loved ones, “At least [my] “Life certainly isn’t boring,” said Trevor Ault of GMA.

The wound.
The horrific wound required seven surgeries and will require at least one more.
NY Post

“She’s a fighter. And she fought for everything in our lives alone,” Dasha told the outlet.

As of Thursday, a GoFundMe campaign for Koltunyuk’s recovery has already raised over $88,000 of the $150,000 goal.

“Our mother is a sensitive, considerate and deeply proud woman who never asks for anything and always puts others before herself. That is why we are asking for help on her behalf,” Dasha and her husband wrote on the donation page shortly after the attack.

Dasha and Tatyana smile with Gregg on their wedding day.
“She’s a fighter. And she fought for everything in our life alone,” said Dasha (left) about her mother.
Courtesy of the family

At the time of her horrific injury, they added, the mother-of-one was looking forward to her retirement “if she could — for the first time in her life — take a break.”

In addition to the daily swim, Koltunyuk from Astoria planned to explore the city with a new pup and travel with her daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are renowned musicians.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing diza@ustimetoday.com.

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