’Still in disbelief’: Surfer barely survives great white shark attack but will paddle back out again
A California surfer who narrowly escaped a confirmed great white shark attack is recovering from multiple surgeries to save his leg.
But Eric Steinley, 38, still plans on paddling back out among the breakers, at least once, after he gets out of the hospital.
The shark that attacked Mr Steinley at Salmon Creek Beach in Bodega Bay was at least about 10ft, or about 3 metres, long, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.
A spokeswoman told The Independent that the size of the shark was confirmed by examining Mr Steinley’s wetsuit and the bite chunk in his surfboard, in consultation with California State University’s Shark Lab director Dr Chris Lowe.
“Swimming in areas where white sharks have been observed, particularly where they have been seen feeding is not recommended,” the spokeswoman said.
But Mr Steinley told ABC News from his hospital bed that he wants to go back out among the breakers at least one more time.
“I still want to be part of the lifestyle,” he told the outlet. “I’m just so thankful ... and still in disbelief that I’m alive because of it.”
Mr Steinley says he was waiting to catch a wave on Sunday, 3 October when he felt something heavy clamp tight around his leg and pull him underwater.
“I was in a lot of pain and still thinking, you know, I’m either going to lose my leg or I’m gonna die,” Mr Steinley told ABC News.
“I punched this thing. And I mean, you can see just from grazing its teeth. I cut my hand. But it was such a measly punch compared to how big this creature was,” he added.
Starting to see spots, Mr Steinley didn’t think he would make it. But he finally caught up to another surfer, Jared Davis, who paddled up next to him.
Mr Davis saw the tail fin of the shark drag the Mr Steinly beneath the surface before he emerged for air moments later.
“He was saying, ‘shark,’ he was saying ‘out,’ he was saying ‘help,’“ Mr Davis told ABC News.
The two paddled into the shore together where about a dozen surfers waited to help with a stretcher improvised from a surfboard and a tourniquet made from surfboard leashes.
That may have just saved his leg, the paramedic on the scene, Timothy Saluzzom, told the broadcaster.