Surfer mauled by shark swims to shore despite leg injuries
A rescue helicopter and other emergency vehicles are seen at the scene of the shark attack in Gracetown, Australia, on April 16, 2018. (Anthony Pancia / Australian Broadcasting Corp via AP)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, April 16, 2018 7:33AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2018 8:47AM EDT
PERTH, Australia -- A surfer mauled by a shark Monday off southwestern Australia managed to swim to shore despite serious injuries to both of his legs, an official and a witness said.
Alejandro Travaglini was surfing at Gracetown around 8 a.m. when he was attacked, St. John Ambulance spokesman Dennis Bertoldo said. The Argentinian-born 37-year-old was treated on the beach by paramedics before he was flown by helicopter 250 kilometres to a hospital in the city of Perth, Bertoldo said.
The hospital described the victim's condition as stable.
The attack prompted the World Surf League to postpone the nearby Margaret River Pro international surfing contest for about an hour.
Organizers had deployed additional shark-spotting drones and jet skis when the competition resumed to ensure competitors' safety, league deputy commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer said.
"We wanted to reconvene and make sure we had everything possible in the water to look after those surfers," Miley-Dyer said in a statement on the league's website.
Surf photographer Peter Jovic watched the attack from the beach and likened it to the live broadcast of a shark attack in South Africa in 2015. Former champion surfer Mick Fanning escaped unscathed when a great white attacked his board as he waited to catch a wave.
"If anyone is familiar with the Mick Fanning moment ... it was very similar to that, where a shark pretty much popped up and ended up knocking a surfer off his board," Jovic told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"The surfer who was being attacked ended up miraculously body surfing into a little wave and getting pushed in by a local at the same time, who was out there with him, and making it to shore before everyone came to his aid," Jovic said.
Lifeguards said a 4-metre shark was spotted off a nearby beach two hours after the attack.
Nine Network television news reported a 41-year-old surfer sustained a large gash to his right thigh from a shark later Monday at a beach near where the attack occurred.
"Happy to be alive," the unnamed man told bystanders who asked if he was OK. The man insisted he could drive himself to a hospital.
A surfer was killed by a shark at Gracetown in 2013.
The #MargiesPro has been called OFF for tomorrow, Tuesday April 17th due to a deteriorating swell and onshore conditions. Next call will be Wednesday 7am AWST (4pm PDT, 8pm BRT, 11pm GMT). @WestAustralia pic.twitter.com/YBbS5cQxvm— World Surf League (@wsl) April 16, 2018