Shark attack victim ignored previous warnings

2011-09-29 22:31

Fish Hoek attack - shark spotted

2011-09-28 14:13

Watch events just after the shark attack at Fish Hoek beach as this News24 User caught video footage of the shark in the water. WATCH

Cape Town - The man attacked by a great white shark at Fish Hoek, Michael Cohen, had ignored beach spotters' warnings before, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said on Thursday.

"They have spoken to him on previous occasions as well, but he still goes and swims," NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said.

"We were told repeatedly by the shark spotters on the scene that they physically told him [Cohen] not to enter the water," said Lambinon.

Cohen was warned not to enter the water because three sharks had been seen.

The 43-year-old British man was in a stable condition in a Cape Town hospital on Thursday afternoon after his right leg was bitten off, as well as part of his left leg below the knee.

An Eskom power blackout in Cape Town compounded the situation as a shark spotter was prevented from sounding a warning alarm before the attack

"At around 12:25 [on Wednesday], the mountain shark spotter saw a swimmer enter the water near the Clovelly Corner area," the City of Cape Town said in a report on the incident.

"The spotter tried to sound the alarm, but due to an Eskom-related city-wide electricity failure, the alarm did not sound."

Eskom said it was not aware of the City of Cape Town's report and could not immediately comment.

The power outage in Cape Town lasted from just before 11:00 to just after 13:00, said Eskom spokesperson Hillary Joffe.

Shark lunged for him

The city said spotters first sighted two great white sharks after 09:00 on Wednesday.

The alarm was sounded, the beach was closed and the white flag was raised.

Once the sharks had moved back out of the bay, the red warning flag was raised as per standard safety protocol.

At 10.50am shark spotters sighted two great white sharks for a second time in Fish Hoek Bay.

The shark siren was again sounded, the beach was cleared of swimmers and the shark flag was raised.

The city said the spotter notified his colleague on the beach, as well as shark spotting operations manager Monwabisi Sikweyiya by radio when Cohen entered the water.

The beach spotter ran toward Clovelly Corner to warn Cohen, while Sikweyiya drove there.

Shortly after 12:25 a witness, Kyle James, 16, saw a large shark "casually and slowly" approach Cohen, who was swimming parallel to the beach in a southerly direction, near the brown water coming from the Silvermine River mouth.

The shark approached him from behind. Cohen appeared unaware of the shark's presence.

"The shark lunged for the swimmer, shook him once, then let go and moved off 5m to 10m away," the city said.

Red with blood

Lambinon said Cohen was pulled out of the water by "two humble good Samaritans", Douglas Drysdale, 61, of Glencairn Heights, and Hugh Till, 66, of Fish Hoek.

The men had been returning from Pollsmoor Prison, where they are voluntary spiritual guidance counsellors. They usually looked out for whales while rounding Clovelly Corner on Main Road on their way back.

They saw Cohen swimming about 25m out to sea in the direction of Fish Hoek, when a dark shape appeared about 30m in front of him.

"As the dark shape grew closer to the swimmer, the two men realised it was a shark," Lambinon said.

The men drove into the car park and ran onto the beach. Cohen was by then struggling, the sea around him red with blood.

"Without hesitation, the two men kicked off their shoes, plunged into the water and waded through the surf to reach the injured swimmer," Lambinon said.

"Douglas had called the emergency services before plunging into the water himself."

Till grabbed Cohen by the hand. Drysdale grabbed Till and dragged them shorewards.

At the scene Sikweyiya removed his belt and applied it as a tourniquet. He elevated Cohen's leg and removed his shorts, which he used to stem the bleeding.

Cohen was stabilised before being taken by helicopter to hospital in Constantiaberg.

The city said Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, St James and Muizenberg remained closed to bathers.

Two shark sightings had been reported at Fish Hoek, while another was reported at Muizenberg on Thursday..

Read more on:    nsri  |  michael cohen  |  cape town  |  shark attacks

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