Two paddleboarders and a surfer came to the rescue of a swimmer at a Central Coast beach in California after hearing his panicked cries for help while he was being attacked by a great white shark.
The swimmer noted in a statement later that he was incredibly lucky that people rushed to his aid.
“He was screaming for help. You could tell by the sound and the emotion in his voice that there was something definitely wrong, and he was slapping the water,” Paul Bandy told KSBW-TV in Monterey.
Bandy, a police officer, was paddleboarding with his wife, who’s a nurse, when they heard the swimmer’s screams Wednesday at the popular Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey. They were in town on vacation celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The swimmer, Steven Bruemmer, 62, a member of a swim club that often uses the beach, had bites to his leg and torso.
Bandy and others pulled him to shore and applied first aid before he was rushed to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas.
“The shark bite was unlucky. But after that, I ... had so much good luck,” Bruemmer said in a statement Thursday to KION-TV in Monterey.
“The day was so calm and warm, and the beach was crowded. There were no waves, and there was no chop. So people could hear me yelling ‘Help’ from a great distance,” he added.
Bandy and his wife “knew what to do” when they came to his aid, Bruemmer said. A surfer teaching a safety class on shore also jumped into the water with his board and brought an extra one with him to help bring in Bruemmer.
“Several bystanders, including a doctor and a nurse who were on the beach for the day, helped put tourniquets on me and get me to the ambulance,” he said.
“I remember ... lying in the ambulance, and I thought, ‘My lungs are good. I can breathe.’ ... It seemed really lucky that the shark got me in a spot that seemed survivable,” Bruemmer added.
Despite major injuries to his leg and stomach, he is expected to recover. Doctors operated on him for two hours. DNA tests confirmed he was attacked by a great white shark, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Doctors credited the good Samaritans with saving his life. Dr. Nicholas Rottler told KION that Bruemmer was lucky no bones were broken, no organs were damaged and no major arteries were severed. There’s a distinct U-ring shark bite mark around his pelvis, Rottler told KION.