An Australian surfer was described as “the luckiest man on Earth” after a great white shark attacked him on Sunday, snapping his board, tearing up his hip and flinging him in the air before he narrowly escaped the animal’s jaws.
Abe McGarth, 35, was surfing at Iluka on the north coast of New South Wales about 6 a.m. when a 11-foot great white shark charged at him from underneath his board, police said. Bryce Cameron, who was at the beach, told Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph the shark hit McGarth’s board from underneath so hard it snapped it.
“He was laying on his board and he got attacked from below really aggressively, the force of the attack snapped his board,” Cameron recalled. “He was laying on his board and he got attacked from below really aggressively, the force of the attack snapped his board.”
The shark latched on to the board, tearing through McGarth’s wetsuit and piercing his thigh. McGarth was tossed into the air before ending up back in the water.
“Abe was left floating in the water with a couple of teeth marks on his body. He scrambled in the water and got washed in by the next wave,” Cameron told The Daily Telegraph.
“He is pretty much the luckiest man on earth right now. He was lying on his board, but if he had been sitting on it he would have lost a leg,” Cameron added.
Elijah “Hobbit” Colbey, who was also in the ocean, told The Daily Telegraph he remembered hearing McGarth calling out his name when the attack happened.
“I started paddling towards him for help and then my mind clicked to it being the worst possible outcome,” Colbey said. “I grabbed his two broken bits of surfboard and we looked at each other and counted our blessings that we could actually walk away.”
Police said McGarth recalled the shark circling around him before turning away. The surfer was taken to the hospital and treated for the gash. He was discharged Sunday night.