08/13/2006 Achmat Hassiem (South Africa)

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2006.

08/13/2006 Achmat Hassiem (South Africa)

Postby sharkbait » Sun Aug 13, 2006 11:55 am

A 24-year-old lifesaver lost his foot when he was bitten by a shark in False Bay on Sunday morning, said the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

He was flown to hospital in a rescue helicopter.

The incident took place about 11am off Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg.

The man, whose name was not released, is a surf lifeguard from Lifesaving SA's False Bay Lifesaving Club which was practising surf rescues at the time, said NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.

He said the man was treated on the scene by medics from the lifesaving club.

"Lifeguard medics had controlled the bleeding, elevated the patient's leg and had the patient in a stable condition."




Chairman of the lifesaving club, Graham Lewis, said the lifeguards were conducting a routine surf rescue exercise when the incident occurred. The man was immediately brought to shore aboard the lifeguard's rigid inflatable boat while treatment began for the injury and emergency services were called.

Lambinon said an NSRI craft in the area at the time also went to help.

"Although the injury is severe the patient is in a stable condition. He has been flown to a local hospital by the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter," said Lambinon.

He said the rescue also involved Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, False Bay EMS Metro volunteer paramedics, Emergency Medical Training Metro volunteer paramedics, Cape Medical Response paramedics, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, the police and Netcare 911 Ambulance Services.

Lambinon said the attack took place about 200m offshore in "glassy, clear seas with approximately half a metre swell and a slight on-shore breeze" at a depth of two to three metres. He said there was clear water visibility although there was murky water nearby due to a river mouth.

He urged bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters to be careful along that stretch of coast. - Sapa

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Postby sharkbait » Sun Aug 13, 2006 11:57 am

Teen sees shark attack brother

Cape Town - A 24-year-old surf lifesaver lost his foot when he was bitten by a shark in False Bay on Sunday morning, said the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

Achmat Hassiem was flown to hospital in a rescue helicopter.

On Sunday afternoon he was undergoing surgery at the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic in Cape Town.

"He's in theatre at the moment. He lost a foot. He's stable at the moment," said Constantiaberg nursing manager Frankie Redfern.

Hassiem's father, Moegsien Hassiem, said the family was awaiting the outcome of the surgery.

He said Achmat and his brother, Taariq, 17, had been in the water together when the shark bit Achmat.

He said Taariq, who is in Grade 12 at Bergvliet High, had helped to save his brother and was undergoing counselling.

"He's the one who saw everything and was in the water with him," said his father.

The incident took place about 11:00 off Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg.

Practising surf rescues

Achmat Hassiem was with the surf lifesavers from Lifesaving SA's False Bay Lifesaving Club which was practising surf rescues at the time, said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

He said Hassiem was treated on the scene by medics from the lifesaving club.

"Lifeguard medics had controlled the bleeding, elevated the patient's leg and had the patient in a stable condition."

Chair of the lifesaving club, Graham Lewis, said the lifeguards were conducting a routine surf rescue exercise when the incident occurred.

Hassiem was immediately brought to shore aboard the lifeguard's rigid inflatable boat while treatment began for the injury and emergency services were called.

Lambinon said an NSRI craft in the area at the time went to help as well.

The rescue also involved Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, False Bay EMS Metro volunteer paramedics, Emergency Medical Training Metro volunteer paramedics, Cape Medical Response paramedics, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, the police and Netcare 911 Ambulance Services.

Water visibility

Lambinon said the attack took place about 200m offshore in "glassy, clear seas with approximately half a metre swell and a slight on-shore breeze" at a depth of 2m to 3m.

There was clear water visibility although there was murky water nearby due to a river mouth.

He urged bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters to be careful along that stretch of coast.

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Postby sharkbait » Sun Aug 13, 2006 9:16 pm

A Cape Town teenager scrambled into a boat to escape a shark only to watch with horror as it turned around and attacked his brother, biting his foot off.

"I got in the boat. It turned and went straight for my brother," Taariq Hassiem, 17, told of the ordeal which unfolded in the waves off Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg at 11am on Sunday.

"I stuck my hand in the water to see if I could hold him. He grabbed on to my hand. We grabbed him out as fast as possible... His foot was cut clean off," said Taariq.

"It's the worst thing that could happen to me. It was the worst sight ever."




'It actually knocked the boat quite hard'
While Taariq helped pull his seriously injured brother Achmat, 24, from the sea, the shark - believed to be a great white - circled and attacked the boat.

At the time, the Hassiem brothers, both surf lifesavers, were on a training exercise in the waves with a team from the False Bay Lifesaving Club.

They were alone together in the deep water, acting as "patients" for three lifesavers in a boat, when Achmat saw the shark heading for Taariq.

"It was by me, my brother shouted 'Taariq, shark'."

He knew his brother would not joke about a shark.

'There were two teeth stuck into the bone'
Once Taariq had been hauled into the boat it headed for Achmat, but he disappeared beneath the water. Seeing a dark patch, Taariq reached in to grab his brother, not knowing if the shark would bite him.

Achmat was pulled into the boat, his leg "dripping with blood" but instead of swimming away, "the shark actually turned around and came for us again", said Taariq.

"It actually knocked the boat quite hard, but there were five of us in the boat so it couldn't knock it over."

They got Achmat ashore where he was treated by lifesaver medics who controlled the bleeding, elevated his leg and stabilised his condition, said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

He was then airlifted to the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic by Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter. His family waited at the hospital while he underwent hours of surgery.

"He's just out of theatre and recovering in ICU. His condition is stable," hospital official Sister BJ Coetzee said on Sunday night.

The boys' father, Moegsien Hassiem, said Achmat had told him he believed the shark was a great white.

"He saw it, he was face to face with it at the bottom of the sea."

His son was looking "much better" after his operation.

"There were two teeth stuck into the bone. So they're going to send them away and see what kind of shark it was."

Taariq, who is in Grade 12 at Bergvliet High, and the other lifesavers were sent for trauma counselling.

Lambinon said the attack took place 200m offshore in "glassy, clear seas with approximately half a metre swell and a slight on-shore breeze" at a depth of 2m to 3m.

While there was mostly clear water visibility, a patch near a river mouth was murky.

Lambinon urged bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters to be careful along that stretch of coast. - Sapa

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Postby sharkbait » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:24 pm

‘I drew shark to save my brother’

By Melanie Gosling

Cape Town – Achmat Hassiem, the Cape Town lifeguard whose foot was bitten off by a shark on Sunday, deliberately attracted the shark towards himself in order to save his younger brother Taariq.

Speaking from his hospital bed yesterday Hassiem, 24, said when he and Taariq, 17, were in the water at Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg, doing a lifeguard training exercise, he had seen the fin of the shark slicing through the water towards his brother.

“It was going for my brother. I shouted: ‘Taariq! Shark!’ and then started splashing about in the water so that I would attract the shark to me. The shark turned around and came towards me. It grabbed my ankle and shook me, then pulled me under water. I thought the game was over.

“But as I went down I told myself: ‘No, you’re not going to die now,’ and I started kicking it. It had my right leg and I kicked at its head with my left leg.

“I don’t know how many times I kicked it, maybe four times. But I needed to get breath, I could feel I had already taken in seawater. And then it let go. As I came up I saw my brother’s hand in the water and grabbed it.

“I looked back and saw the shark coming towards me for a second time, but the guys in the boat pulled me in before he got to me. They saved my life,” Hassiem said.

He was rushed to shore and airlifted to hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery on his leg. He is out of intensive care but will have further surgery today.

“I don’t know how to describe what it was like. You don’t feel pain. It had my leg in its mouth but I didn’t feel pain. It was just . . . just this brute power, this massive brute force against me, against nothing.”

Hassiem is putting on a brave face, and already talks about going back to being a lifeguard, but he knows it will be hard to train again, having to learn to swim without his foot. “I want to go back. I’m being as brave as I can. But I struggle to sleep. Every time I close my eyes I see it all again, every detail.”

He has not had trauma counselling, but found himself doing the comforting for family and friends yesterday.


http://www.theherald.co.za/herald/news/n06_15082006.htm
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Postby sharkbait » Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:20 am

Shark victim takes his first steps

August 17 2006 at 11:53AM

By Zara Nicholson

Lifeguard Achmat Hassiem has taken his first steps in hospital just three days after losing his right foot in a shark attack. The 24-year-old lifeguard hopes to be discharged at the weekend.

Using crutches and with the help of his physiotherapist, Hassiem took the first steps at Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic on Wednesday after a second operation was "successfully completed" on Tuesday. This means that preparations can now begin to fit a prosthesis.

The fitting of the prosthesis is likely to start on Friday, and will take place gradually, said the Medi-Clinic's client services manager, Lisa Douglas. They will start moulding the prosthesis to fit the stump on Hassiem's foot.

'Today he is another person'
His mother Thoraiya said on Wednesday that Achmat was progressing well and that she was delighted to see he had taken a few steps just a day after his second operation.

"On Tuesday he was in a lot of pain, but today he is another person," she said.

"He's back to being the fighting Achmat. He took his first steps on Wednesday afternoon with the physio and we were all clapping hands."

Doctors had said on Sunday that he might be discharged after four weeks.

"They've now said Achmat might come home this weekend, which just shows how great his progress is."

Bury the embalmed bones of Achmat's severed foot
Douglas said Achmat would continue to receive physiotherapy and counselling. She said the rehabilitation with the physiotherapist would take place until Hassiem was discharged and would continue afterwards.

In keeping with their Muslim faith, the Hassiem family held a private religious ceremony on Wednesday to bury the embalmed bones of Achmat's severed foot.

Achmat, attacked during a lifesaving exercise off Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg on Sunday, said he had seen the shark going for his 17-year-old brother Taariq, also a lifesaver. He warned Taariq and then splashed the water to distract the shark.

The two lifesaver brothers have thanked one another as they both feel that the other helped save their lives. Achmat lured the shark away from Taariq and wrestled the shark and managed to get away. Taariq then stuck his hand in the water hoping Achmat would grab it.

"I didn't care about the shark, I was just praying that Achmat would grab it," Taariq said.

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Postby sharkbait » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:51 am

'Hero' lifeguard prepares for return to sea
Igsaan Salie
August 20 2006 at 09:51AM

Shark attack survivor Achmat Hassiem will be facing his demons on Sunday morning when he returns to the scene of the attack after being discharged from hospital on Saturday.

The lifeguard lost his right foot last Sunday when he was attacked by a shark, believed to be a Great White, during a lifesaving exercise at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg.

He was given a hero's welcome by family and friends when he arrived at his Strandfontein home after spending five days in hospital.

Walking into the house on crutches, Hassiem was all smiles and in high spirits as he embraced family and friends.

'You are in the presence of the raw power of nature...'
Cracking jokes with his friends, he quipped to one of them: "Don't you have any takkies? I only need one."

His grandmother, Sulayla Lackay, was among the first to greet him. She came from Durban when she heard the news.

"I'm fine, Mama, I'm alive. It could have been much worse," he told her.

He proudly displayed the shark tooth extracted from his leg.

"He wanted to take part of me, so I took some of him," he joked holding up the segment of tooth.

But he hasn't let his popularity go to his head and shies away from the term hero and said: "I'm not a hero, just a lifeguard doing his job."

His father, Moegseen said he was glad to have his boy back at home.

"I called him last night and told him just one more night in hospital and then you can come home."

His father said Achmat's character was so strong that he wouldn't let this bring him down.

"He is really warm and has an amazing personality. Even when they had him on the beach and were going to take him onto the helicopter he joked with the paramedics: 'Can I have a window seat?' That's the type of person he is."

Sitting in his room, Hassiem said he was looking forward to sleeping in his own bed again. He said the possibility of a shark attack was one of the things that lifeguards and surfers always joked and talked about.

"I just went and did it, though."

His brother, Taariq, said they had, in fact, been cracking jokes about sharks attacking them less than two minutes before the incident actually happened.

Hassiem said he couldn't even describe the emotions he was feeling at that time.

"You are in the presence of the raw power of nature itself and it was something you can't explain. I am just glad to have gotten away with my life."

He is very excited about getting back into the water but in the same breath said it would probably be the scariest thing he will ever have to do.

"Arriving at the beach that almost took my life is quite hectic." He and his family have all been undergoing therapy sessions at the hospital to help deal with the attack.

"The first three days and nights were very tough. I was struggling to sleep and had nightmares and visions of the attack or fighting with the shark underwater."

Hassiem's mother Thoraiya said she was happy things were again starting to return to normal.

"It only really hit me on Monday what had actually happened and it was quite scary. I could have lost both my sons on that Sunday."

She said that well-wishers and concerned people had overwhelmed the family with messages and flowers.

"You had to see his room in the hospital, it looked almost like a florist with all the bouquets."



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Postby sharkbait » Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:51 am

Shark attack survivor Achmat Hassiem, who lost his right foot two months ago in a shark attack at Sunrise beach, has a new spring in his step.

He was in high spirits and cracking jokes as he practised walking with his new hi-tech prosthetic limb during a physiotherapy session at Vincent Pallotti Hospital, Cape Town, on Friday.

Hassiem, who refers to himself as "Shark Boy", managed a few steps without his crutches. He even managed to control a soccer ball with the limb, which has a South African flag printed on it.

Positioning his new foot on the soccer ball, he joked "that maybe this will inspire Bafana Bafana to score a goal". He said he had had to decide between a flag on the foot or a picture of a shark, and he chose the flag because he was patriotic.

'Just like in the movie, Finding Nemo, this is my lucky fin'
He said he was doing really well, although some nights he had flashbacks of the attack. "But then I try to think of something else and concentrate on all the positive things, like the support of my family, girlfriend and friends."

Hassiem even has a name for his stump - "Nabbie". He laughs, saying: "Just like in the movie, Finding Nemo, this is my lucky fin."

He had received tremendous support. "People come up to me in the mall asking how I am. I get hundreds of phone calls from people I don't even know, wishing me well. It's been a very uncool way to become popular."

Achmat said the past few days, when he was learning to walk on his new foot, had been "really exciting".

"Just the feeling of walking and seeing another foot alongside my other one is totally awesome and overwhelming. This has become the biggest highlight of my rehabilitation process thus far."

He said he and his friend had dreamed of driving a Ferrari. "Well, this limb is my Ferrari."

Meeting swimmer Natalie du Toit, who had lost a leg in a vehicle accident, and JP Andrew, also the survivor of a shark attack, helped him understand what life with a prosthetic was going to be like.

"Everything they said made the picture in my mind so much clearer and set my mind and body at ease, knowing that I will be able to be sports active again. Meeting them boosted my confidence immensely."

Cape Town orthotist prosthetist Jayson Chin and supply company Medactive donated the limb.

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Postby sharkbait » Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:42 pm

Shark attack survivor aims for Paralympics

By Kylie Walker

Achmat Hassiem, the lifeguard whose foot was bitten off by a great white shark during a life-saving exercise at Sunrise Beach last August, has high hopes of qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

"I don't know yet whether I have qualified - my coach, Brian Button, is keeping it a secret - but from my swimming times I know I have one or two events in which I am among the top six in the world," an upbeat Hassiem said.

Hassiem, 25, recently returned from the National Swimming Championships in Durban where he competed against other disabled swimmers and was named "most outstanding swimmer".

"I'm training really hard at the moment. I swim eight times a week, morning and evening, and in between that I have gym sessions."

His best stroke is the 50m butterfly - "I am a second off the world record".

At the Sports Science Institute in Newlands he is also training for the 100m butterfly, and the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle events.

"I'm swimming with my good friend Chris King, who is not disabled, and who is one of the fastest swimmers in South Africa. Keeping up with him really pushes me. I forget about my disability, which is an awesome thing."

Hassiem says he is still nervous about going into the ocean, but the loss of his leg has not slowed him down.

"I swim way faster now than I did with two legs. I used to dream of making the national team, and competing in the biggest sporting event in the world. Now that I might represent my country I want to do the best I can."

He is also "trying to get a blade of the type Oscar Pistorius uses so I can run really fast, which I'm unable to at the moment."

At present he is studying a coaching science course at the Exercise Training Academy with the intention of one day owning a swimming school where he can help others with disabilities.

"I have been given so much help I want to give something back," he said.

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Re: 08/13/2006 Achmat Hassiem (South Africa)

Postby sharkbait » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:44 pm

Achmat Hassiem returns to the water

Swimmers brave Robben Island swim

March 26 2008 at 02:39PM

By Jade Witten

A team of four Khayelitsha swimmers will brave the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time when they race in the Cadiz Vista Nova Freedom Swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand.

The 7,5km swim is considered one of the world's most extreme events because of water temperatures ranging from 13 to 15° Celsius, the presence of sharks and strong ocean currents.

Team members of the Khayelitsha Swimming Club Yandisa Nyoka, 16, Kwanele Seku, 19, Lubabalo Mayedwa, 32, and coach Mthetheleli Mdoda, 26, are all lifeguards and ready for this endurance race.

'We have been training for four hours every day'
"We have been training for four hours every day since January and are happy to be the first Africans to take on the challenge," the coach said.

Mdoda said the team was keen and enthusiastic about the race but the cold water was one "obstacle" they needed to overcome.

"We have trained in False Bay and will swim at Clifton to get used to the water temperature," he said.

About 200 swimmers - 100 individual swimmers and 20 relay teams - will race on April 26 and, for the first time in the seven years that the swim has been taking place, participants in the relay division will be allowed to wear wetsuits to stave off the cold.

For safety, all participants must be accompanied by a motorised boat.

The money raised from the event will be donated to the Vista Nova School for children with learning disabilities.

Accomplished swimmer Achmat Hassiem - who qualified for the Beijing Paralympics later this year - and who lost part of his right leg in a shark attack in August 2006, will also participate in the race.

This will be Hassiem's first return to the water since the attack.

"There is obviously some fear about going back into the water but I love the challenge and this is for such a worthy cause," he said.

For more information visit http://www.freedomswim.co.za or call Heather van Wyk on 082 4684450.


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Re: 08/13/2006 Achmat Hassiem (South Africa)

Postby sharkbait » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:28 pm

Swimmer lives his dream in Paralympics

September 05 2008 at 11:32AM

By Ziyanda Sidumo

Cape Town swimmer Achmat Hassiem, 26, has been allowed a break from fasting this week so that he can perform at his best at the Paralympics in Beijing, which starts on Saturday.

Hassiem, the victim of a shark attack that left him without his lower right leg, will be participating in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and the 100m butterfly events.

Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, started on Monday. During this period, Muslims have to abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. But with the physical strain of participating in the Paralympics, Hassiem will postpone his fasting.

The swimmer comes from a deeply religious family and his proud mother, Thoraiya Hassiem, said they had discussed the fasting as a family.

"As a family, we decided to release him from the fasting because he needs all the energy he can get so he can do well in the swimming," the athlete's mother said.

She said she was very proud of her son and that she missed him a lot. "I call him every day, even though it costs a lot."

Hassiem started swimming nine years ago while in high school, when a friend asked him to join a swimming team.

But in 2006, he was attacked by a shark while trying to save his brother with whom he was swimming and his right leg had to be amputated.

But the ever-positive Hassiem did not lose hope. Just a few weeks after being in hospital he was swimming again and in a few months, he made the Western Cape provincial team.

Hassiem has dreamt of taking part in the Paralympics since the shark attack. Now he is living his dream.

"As long as he does well, that is what I hope for," his mother said.


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