Surfer punches shark in bid to survive attack
Published 09/02/2014 | 22:51
A British surfer who was badly bitten by a shark while surfboarding off the coast of New Zealand has told how he escaped by attempting to punch it in the face.
Darren Mills, 28, from Crawley, West Sussex, is in hospital in the southern city of Invercargill with serious injuries to his right leg after the shark attack on Friday.
He was riding the waves more than 50 yards offshore in Porpoise Bay, Southland, when what he believes was a great white launched itself at him.
"When it hit me, it sort of pushed me out and, and I sort of realised what was going on and I could see it.
"I tried to punch it but it was more like a push," he told Television New Zealand's One News programme.
"I was pretty scared it was going to come back."
He managed to stay on his board and ride a wave back to shore, where a holidaying doctor and nurse attended him until a rescue helicopter arrived to fly him to Southland Hospital.
"There's a puncture wound just below my knee, which might have gone, or has gone, through a tendon, and then there's four lacerations up my leg to the top of my thigh," he said from his hospital bed on Sunday.
Retaining his sense of humour, Mr Mills joked that it could take him a while to venture back into the sea.
"When it first happened I was, like, 'I'm not even getting in the bath tub again,'" he said.
"But I just want to get back and surf again. I just feel really, really lucky. Really lucky."
Nick Smart, a fellow surfer who saw the incident, said: "He was sitting on his surfboard and the shark came up from nowhere and hit him.
"You could see blood and he was definitely in pain."
Mr Mills, who has been living in the South Island ski resort of Queenstown, has a souvenir of his ordeal.
His surfboard is pockmarked with a semicircle of tooth marks from the shark, the size of which appear to put its length at up to 9ft.
It was the second shark attack off the South Island within the past month.