Shark mauls surfer off Eyre Peninsula
September 4, 2005 - 6:59PM
Jake Heron's idyllic Father's Day turned into a living nightmare when a four-metre Great White Shark mauled him off South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.
The 40-year-old Port Lincoln man chose Fishery Bay as the spot to enjoy a surf with long-time friend Craig Materna as his two children played on the rocks nearby.
But Mr Heron's surf was cut short when a shark approached him just 10 metres from shore.
Miraculously, he survived after taking on the Great White - giving it a decent punch or two as he fought for his life.
Mr Heron's two children, a six-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, looked on in horror as Mr Heron was attacked just metres from the shoreline about 3pm (CST)
Mr Materna, who was riding a surfboard nearby at the time of the attack, told AAP he heard his friend scream and paddled straight to him.
"He was freaking out, yelling for help," Mr Materna said.
"No one saw the shark come up to him - it knocked him off the board.
"It pulled him under because the leg rope was attached to him. He kicked and punched the shark, I think in the gill."
Mr Materna, of Port Lincoln, said the shark bit his friend through his wetsuit on the right arm and thigh.
The shark also chomped on his surf board, splitting it in two before resuming the attack on its screaming victim.
Mr Materna said Mr Heron ran up the beach, yelling and holding his leg as he struggled to his car, and found medical help.
Wrapping towels around his wounds, Mr Heron's friends took him to Tulka, a nearby town, where they met an ambulance.
Mr Heron was taken to Port Lincoln Hospital and was in recovery on Sunday night.
A fisherman by trade, Mr Heron had 20 stitches in his arm and 40 stitches in his thigh.
"If the shark had bit him in any other part of his body, it could have been good night (to him)," Mr Materna said.
"Not too many people survive a shark attack."
Mr Materna said the cold sea - about 15 degrees Celsius - helped to slow Mr Heron's bleeding, which proved a blessing.
"It was quite cold in the water," he said. "He didn't lose too much blood."
Mr Materna said he had never seen a shark at Fishery Bay, a popular surfing sport for locals.
"Jake was lucky - the shark had a few goes at him," Mr Materna said.
"He got a shock. He realises he's lucky to be alive."
A hospital spokesman declined to comment on the man's condition.
Mr Heron's wife, who was interstate at the time of the attack, will return to Port Lincoln to be at her husband's bedside.
Mr Materna said the fisheries department would try to find the Great White Shark after it escaped the coastal spot unharmed.
Although Mr Heron's children witnessed the gory attack, Mr Materna said: "The kids are fine".
The attack comes just two weeks after a marine biologist was killed by a shark while diving off Adelaide's metropolitan coast.
In that attack, Jarrod Stehbens, 23, was killed while diving for cuttlefish eggs off Glenelg beach in Adelaide's west.
A memorial service for Mr Stehbens was held in his home town of Beachport in the state's south-east on Saturday.
Last December, an 18-year-old surfer was killed by a Great White about one kilometre north of Glenelg.