The surfer who lost a chunk of his leg in a shark attack on the NSW south coast was saved by a mate who went out into the water and paddled him back to shore.
Brett Connellan, 22, was surfing 100 metres off Kiama’s Bombo Beach when he was attacked by a shark which ripped into his left thigh and gored his hand at dusk on Wednesday.
Hearing his screams, Joel Trist swam to his mate’s aid and ferried him back to shore on his board.
Off-duty nurses used a leg rope as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding before the local surfer was airlifted to St George Hospital, where he remains in a serious but stable condition having lost a large part of his thigh.
Locals have hailed the efforts of Mr Trist and the quick-thinking of others who helped on the beach.
“He could’ve bled to death before we arrived on scene,” Ambulance NSW district officer Inspector Terry Morrow told the Illawarra Mercury.
“He was very lucky the members of the public were there and acted as they did. They saved his life, to tell you the truth.”
Sydney doctor Nathan Trist praised his brother on Twitter.
“So proud of my brother for paddling 50m, getting Brett to shore and putting leg rope tourniquet on,” he wrote.
So proud of my brother for paddling 50m, getting Brett to shore and putting leg rope tourniquet on #shark #bombo pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/2jkAYfKPa9
— Nathan Trist (@nathantrist) March 30, 2016
Mr Connellan is a well known surfing figure in the south coast beach community and is the store manager of a local surfboard shop.
The shop’s owner Dylan Perese expressed his grief over his friend’s accident on social media.
“I still can’t comprehend it. Sharks are always in the back of every surfers mind but we never think it’s going to happen to someone we know, let alone your store manager and right hand man,” he said.
Last year Mr Connellan praised Australian surfing star Mick Fanning on Facebook for fighting off a shark attack during competition, hailing Fanning’s colleague Julian Wilson as a hero for paddling in to help.
“It’s crazy what people are prepared to do for their mates, they’re both absolute heroes in my eyes,” he wrote.
Bombo Beach and neighbouring beaches are closed on Thursday with lifeguards undertaking jetski patrols of the water in search of the shark.
Experts says the shark that attacked Mr Connellan was likely a great white or bronze whaler.
Joel Trist said he was about 50m down the beach from his friend when he realised his friend was in trouble.
“The first thing I saw was Brett getting thrashed around in the water and a terrible scream,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“Acting on instinct, I just paddled as hard as I could towards him and even lost sight of him at one stage.”
Mr Trist then pulled his friend onto his board before heading to shore.
“I just said to him, `what’s it like?’ and he said `it’s not good’ and at that point I knew something was horribly wrong.”