Lifeguard in Wednesday's shark-attack rescue a 'hero,' colleagues say
Years after a shark ripped into his leg and ankle, Daniel Lund became an ocean lifeguard.
The consummate "water man," he grew up on the ocean and loved it too much not to accept its inherent risks. In that sense, Lund, 46, had something in common with Stephen Schafer, 38, the well-known surfer whose life he tried to save Wednesday off Stuart Beach.
Lund's fellow lifeguards described him as highly skilled and compassionate. They said no one was better equipped to handle what unfolded that day after a shark attacked Schafer as he was kiteboarding about a quarter-mile offshore.
To bring Schafer in, Lund paddled into bloody, shark-infested waters, ignoring the risk to himself.
"If I'm out there and I'm bleeding real bad and I'm scared, I want a guy like Dan Lund to show up," said lifeguard Mike Mammen. "He's a hero in my book."
Despite Lund's heroic efforts Wednesday, doctors soon declared Schafer dead at Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart.
Since the attack, Lund, a quiet family man with no apparent love for the spotlight, has received hundreds of phone calls from media outlets nationwide. National morning shows, such as NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America, aired features on the attack.
Lund is married and has a young daughter, his co-workers said.
Lund, who was unavailable Friday, seemed more comfortable Thursday talking about the role lifeguards play in preventing tragedies than in recounting Wednesday's dramatic attack and rescue.
A lifeguard for nine years, Lund worked in finance and investment for years in Palm Beach County before making the switch. Despite a 1986 shark attack that left him unable to walk for four months, Lund said he loved the ocean and was eager to become a lifeguard when the opportunity came up.
Lund once made nearly 40 ocean rescues in a single day in Martin County with the help of fellow lifeguards, an event he received a commendation for.
He has handled two other fatalities, both drownings, and would only say Thursday that the experience leaves it mark.
Although he didn't discuss it, his fellow lifeguards said that in both instances children watched as their parents were pulled from the water. The deaths occurred two weeks apart.
In this case, lifeguard Matt Honan said Schafer's death hit hard because he was known not only in the surfing community but to the lifeguards who patrol the beaches.
"We're showing up and they're leaving and it's the start of a new day," he said of the surfers.
Jon Belding, division chief for Martin County Fire Rescue, said Lund will take some time off, but how much is up to him. He noted, though, that the sooner Lund gets back into the water the easier it will be to recover. Lund has been offered counseling.
Like the lifeguards, some of Schafer's friends called Lund a hero.
Ida Fry, who worked with Schafer, said it gave her some solace to know Schafer wasn't alone after the attack.
"I'm glad that he was still conscious when (Lund) got there, and he knew that someone was taking him home," she said.
Staff writer Daphne Duret contributed to this story.http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/lifeg ... 16416.html