New Caledonia: Australian man dies at beach following shark attack
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A surfer has opened up on a shark attack that left him missing three-quarters of his thigh. Brett Connellan miraculously survived after coming face to face with a bull shark 100 metres off-shore at Bombo Beach in the tourist town of Kiama on the NSW south coast in March 2016. Mr Connellan, who was 22 at the time, said he did not see the shark coming until he was thrown from his board and mauled by the animal.
“That initial moment when you look down and realise what’s actually going on, for a surfer that’s your worst nightmare,” Mr Connellan said.
Seven years later, Mr Connellan shared his story in a Stan documentary called Attacking Life that chronicles his road to recovery and the long-term effects of his nightmare encounter.
He recalled the moment he was attacked feeling incredibly slow despite the incident happening so quickly.
He also said it was an out-of-body experience and can recall the shark’s gaze – as well as the feel of its skin and the quietness during the ordeal.
He said: “The look in the shark’s eyes, in the moment it’s one of the most terrifying things you can look at because it’s not something you can reason with.
“It’s this realisation that my worst nightmare is coming to fruition right in front of me and I can’t do anything about it. The most vivid thing I can remember is the touch and feel of the shark’s skin as I’m trying to push it away or hold it at arm’s length. It was kind of really rough, which was a strange sensation to remember.
“One of the other things that sticks out to me was the lack of sound. It was like someone completely turned the sound off, there was not even the ringing sound in the background, it was just dead silence.
“It’s like your world shrinks into this small bubble and you’re almost looking at it from the outside.”
Mr Connellan said as the shark returned to bite him a second time, he put his hands out to try and stop it.
The shark propelled him through the water with ‘so much power’ and in a last ditch effort for survival, Mr Connellan pushed the shark to one side and caught a wave into shore.
Mr Connellan told Daily Mail Australia he was thrilled the documentary, which premiered on March 9, is not a ‘Jaws-esque’ tale.
He added: “But when you offer your story to someone else to tell – you lose control over the things that mean the most. It could have been a remake of Jaws and I didn’t want that. It was important for me to do it under circumstances where I could really include my perspective. Because being bitten by that shark … it took part of my leg but it gave me so much more.”
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Surgeons feared Mr Connellan would never walk again and told the young man there was a possibility his leg might have to be amputated.
However, with innovative medical care, including surgery which attached his lateral muscle from his back to his left quadriceps, the surfer was able to walk and eventually get back on his board.
“I was told that I would not be able to walk again and definitely wouldn’t be able to surf again,” Mr Connellan said.
“I remember thinking I want to prove the doctors wrong and show them that I can walk again and I ended up going so much further than that.”
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