Boy surfer survives shark attack
NICOLE COX, KATEK YRIACOU and JULIE TULLBERG
December 03, 2006 12:15am
A HEROIC Kiwi couple, who helped save the life of a boy surfer savaged by a Great White shark yesterday, have told how they tied an extension cord around his leg to stem the bleeding and sang to him as they rushed him to hospital
Zac Golebiowski, of Mt Gambier, was surfing 40m offshore with his 18-year-old brother, Sam, and friend Joe Redman, 15, around 10.10am (CST) at Wharton Beach, 70km east of Esperance, when the five-metre beast attacked him.
Zac's right leg was bitten off by the shark, which also mauled and punctured his other leg, leaving it severely lacerated.
New Zealand couple Amy Worling, 26, and Pete Hickmott, 32, were about to start fishing nearby when they heard screaming and noticed the distressed 15-year-old in the water.
"I heard one of them yell out `help' and thought, something is not right here," Ms Worling told the Sunday Mail.
"We've run down to the beach and one of the young boys down there said `we need a car'.
"Pete and Joe have run up to get the car and I helped Sam pull Zac out of the water.
"I sort of knew he would need some bandaging so I grabbed a hoodie and a towel that were sitting on the beach. I helped get him on to the beach and then helped tie the hoodie around his leg and put the towel over him."
The three men then helped Zac into the back of the couple's station wagon, where Ms Worling used an extension cord as a tourniquet, tying it around Zac's severed right leg, which had been ripped off below the knee.
"I was talking to Zac, trying to keep him talking to us and keep him focused on staying awake," Ms Worling said.
"He said `can you please not talk to me'. He just wanted to stay calm and zone out. We also sang to him."
The group then drove to the nearby Duke of Orleans Caravan Park and called emergency services, saying they would start the hour-long drive towards Esperance and meet them along the way. About 10km before Esperance, St John Ambulance paramedics met them and took Zac to Esperance Regional Hospital. He was then flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and last night remained in Royal Perth Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Mr Hickmott said he had feared they might lose Zac.
"When I pulled up in the car on the beach . . . he didn't look too good," Mr Hickmott said.
"The look on his face, the colour of his skin, he was grey. It wasn't too good.
"All I heard was screams. Then I saw the pool of blood (in the water) and the surfboard behind it. It wasn't good, hey."
The couple are on a working holiday in Australia for two months and were visiting Esperance during some time off.
"We are from New Zealand and these things just don't happen where we are from. It's not often you hear about shark attacks," Ms Worling said.
"It's just so surreal. I can't believe it happened."
Constable Katrina Luke, from Esperance police, said it was fortunate the teenager had received immediate first aid.
"He is in a serious but stable condition largely due to the first aid he received at the scene," she said.
The beach was immediately closed and a helicopter used to find the shark, which circled Zac's surfboard for more than three hours after the attack. The shark was sighted, but authorities later lost track of the beast.
Mr Hickmott said he and Ms Worling planned to visit Zac and his family this week.
Speaking from Mt Gambier, Zac's father Les Golebiowski said the family was in shock.
"You don't expect your kid to be bitten by a shark," he said.
"You'd expect him to be hurt in a car accident but not this.
"At least he's still with us, that's the main thing."
Zac's mother Ann was on her way to Perth last night.
She told Seven News she always feared for her sons' safety.
"I've got seven sons altogether and they all surf," she said. "And I always thought that one day this would happen."
Mr Golebiowski said Sam witnessed the attack and helped his injured brother to safety.
"Sam saw what happened. He was in the water with him," he said.
"Sam's not too bad physically, but emotionally he's pretty upset about what's happened to his young brother."
Yesterday, at Perth's Jandakot Airport, another brother, Jan, 25, said Zac was conscious and talking to police officers.
"He's lucky to be alive," Jan said.
Les Golebiowski, who grew up in Mt Gambier, said the family lived in the Esperance area until they returned to South Australia recently.
But Zac moved back to Esperance where some of his older siblings had remained after suffering from homesickness.
"Zac loves to surf. He's always loved the water," he said.
"But he's a bit of a stickler – he likes things to stay the same.
"He missed his friends, so we moved him back to WA where he lives with some close friends of ours.
"Their son was out surfing with him this morning when it happened."
The Golebiowskis also have two daughters.
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