Good Samaritans rescue shark victim and seal keeps shark at bay

Two brave Fish Hoek residents with no hesitation for their own safety kicked off their shoes, ran into the sea, then waded through the surf to reach the great white shark victim yesterday and then hauled him to the safety of Clovelly Corner beach, it emerged late yesterday.

And while bystanders screamed,  the shark headed towards the men whose progress was slow.  The shark was not 10 minutes from the men when a seal appeared and swam between the men and the shark.

The seal the men say, kept circling (although this may not be able to be proved) and appeared to be fending off the shark from the rescue effort until the men managed to get the victim safely onto the beach.

Photo: Cape Medical Response

The good Samaritans, Douglas Drysdale,  61, and Hugh Till, 66, who do not want to be contacted by the press,  were returning home from work together in one car from Pollsmoor Prison where they are voluntary spiritual guidance counsellors. They regulalry look out for whales as they round Clovelly Corner on Main Road bound for Fish Hoek.

Yesterday they saw a man swimming comfortably, about 25 meters out to sea and swimming in the direction of Fish Hoek. But a dark shape loomed in front of the swimmer, about 30 meters from the swimmer, and heading directly at him.

As the dark shape grew closer to the swimmer the two men realised it was a shark. Feeling compelled to warn the swimmer they quickly drove into the car park and raced onto the beach but it was too late. The swimmer was already struggling in the water in a pool of blood having been bitten by the shark.

Douglas called the emergency services before the two plunged into the surf  and swam to the bitten swimmer.  Hugh grabbed the swimmer by the hand while Douglas grabbed Hugh and dragged the two to the shore.

As the men reached the beach one of the shark spotters, Monwabisi Sikweyiya, the operatiaons manager by radio on the beach, immediately tied his belt around the stump of the victim’s amputated right leg as a tourniquet. Another belt from Douglas was used as an additional tourniquet.

The brave Samaritans and other bystanders reassured the victim. Rescuers on the scene and eye-witnesses confirmed that a shark remained close to the scene throughout the medical efforts to save the victim.

It has been confirmed that a seal was swimming close by during the entire episode. Eye-witnesses report that the seal circled the men as they gradually waded ashore while the shark remained close by throughout and appeared to be advancing on the rescue effort.

CMR (Cape Medical Response) paramedics Darren Zimmerman (also station commander of NSRI Simonstown) and Kim Yon arrived on-scene first and found the pale and weak patient struggling to breathe with a weak, thready pulse and no blood pressure. The patient was fully conscious and the two paramedics applied oxygen and turned the mans body placing his head downhill of the beach in an effort to try to bring up his blood pressure while bilateral intravenous fluid lines were set up in the mans arms before being joined by further paramedics. The patient had a strong pulse and a blood pressure by the time he was loaded into the air ambulance for transportation to hospital.

The patient, (identified 29/9/11 as Uk citizen resdient in South Africa, Micahel Cohen, 42) remains in a serious condition and is undergoing surgery in theatre.

The NSRI commented yesterday: “Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and the doctors who are fighting to save his limb. We commend the efforts of the two humble good Samaritans,Douglas and Hugh, and those efforts of Darren and Kim and the emergency services today.”

See related post from yesterday (with two photos):

https://stfrancischronicle.com/2011/09/28/clovelly-shark-attack-mans-leg-bitten-off-by-great-white/

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