Surfer’s lucky escape from shark’s jaws

2013-12-18 00:00

STELLENBOSCH — He felt a hard bump and then his thigh was in a shark’s jaws.

Thomas Browne (19) of Hermanus yesterday described the attack that put him in hospital on Monday.

He tried to push the shark away while screaming for help, as his traumatised friend could only look on.

Browne, his friend and the friend’s step­father were surfing at Die Plaat beach, which is known for sharks, on Monday. He said he has been surfing for five years and had never before encountered a shark.

“I don’t really like surfing at Die Plaat, but if the waves are good, you take a chance,” he said.

He was first into the water and was attacked about 50 metres from the beach. “I was on my board, paddling towards my friend when I felt a hard bump against my body.

“The knock turned me 90 degrees towards the beach.

“I knew straight away it was a shark and started shouting. Before I knew it, my leg was in its jaws.

“My poor friend couldn’t do anything.”

Browne said the shark dropped his leg when his board’s fin got stuck in its mouth, and a wave washed him to shore.

“I hardly felt any pain. I was so full of adrenaline, it just felt like a bump.”

But it wasn’t just a bump — he suffered six bites, one six centimetres deep, and the teeth just missed an artery and important nerves.

Browne will be discharged from hospital today. He said the doctors told him he was very lucky and could easily have lost his leg.

“I do plan to get back in the sea, but I don’t know if I will be afraid,” he said.

Alison Kock, research manager of the Shark Spotters organisation, said it was probably a great white shark, about three to four metres long. She warned they approach the beaches closer at this time of year.

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