A surfer who was mauled by a great white shark in remote waters in Australia managed to swim ashore and walk nearly 1,000 feet to seek help, a “remarkable” feat, according to one of the paramedics who treated him.
The 29-year-old man came face-to-face with the shark on Sunday while surfing in D’Estrees Bay, on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
The shark took chunks out of the surfer’s back and thigh, as well as his surfboard, leaving the man with “serious” injuries, said Michael Rushby, a paramedic based on Kangaroo Island who treated the man before he was taken to a hospital.
The surfer was able to paddle ashore still holding his board and walked about 1,000 feet along the beach to a parking lot, where he finally found help from another surfer. They drove toward a nearby hospital and ended up meeting the ambulance on the way.
Australia is in the midst of a deadly year for shark attacks. There have been eight fatalities already this year, the most in nearly a century.
“The stars aligned for this gentleman,” Mr. Rushby said in an interview with 9News Adelaide, who identified the surfer as Dion Lynch. “He had good bystanders, he had an off-duty paramedic on the scene. He had a full crew of air ambulance officers.”
Speaking to a South Australian newspaper, The Advertiser, Mr. Rushby added that Mr. Lynch was “very brave” noting that with the extent of his injuries, being able to walk away from the attack was “remarkable.”
Mr. Lynch was coherent throughout, Mr. Rushby said, and maintained conversations with him and the other paramedics.
After receiving medical treatment at a hospital on the island, Mr. Lynch was then airlifted to Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, on the mainland.
Recovering from emergency surgery in his hospital bed, Mr. Lynch wrote a statement thanking emergency medical workers and saying that he felt “incredibly lucky and grateful.”
“I was sitting on my board when I felt a hit on my left side — it was like being hit by a truck,” he said. “I got a glimpse of the shark as it let go and disappeared.”
The waters around South Australia have five species of shark that are considered potentially dangerous, according to the area’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions, and the authority has logged 33 shark sightings since the beginning of the year.
But the attack from the great white shark — the world’s largest predatory fish, and one of the shark species most associated with unprovoked assaults on humans — was the first on Kangaroo Island in 15 years, 9News Adelaide reported.
The local authorities closed D’Estrees Bay beach after the attack and the public was asked to avoid the area.