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Shy hero saves woman's life by pulling tail of attacking shark

A man who grabbed a great white shark as it attacked a young woman has been hailed as a hero.

Elyse Frankcom (19), a snorkelling guide, was leading a group in waters off Garden Island, about 50 miles south of Perth, Australia, when she was attacked and mauled by the 10ft great white, which swam up from underneath and bit her thighs.

The burly, bearded man, named only as Trevor, was in the water nearby as part of Ms Frankcom's "Swim with the Dolphins" tour group. He risked his life by grabbing the tail of the shark and trying to pull it away from Ms Frankcom during the incident on Saturday.

As the wounded woman began to sink to the ocean floor, he grabbed her and swam her to the surface and back to the tour boat, where she received medical help, before being rushed to hospital.

Getting off the tour boat, the man was reluctant to identify himself, saying only: "All I want is for the girl to be okay."



Bravery

Rescue professionals have praised his bravery, saying Ms Frankcom could have died if he had not taken on the shark, which left two shards of teeth embedded in the tour guide's thigh. She remains in hospital, in a stable condition.

Frank Pisani, of Fremantle Sea Rescue, said that as the shark attacked Ms Frankcom it brushed past a "fairly large" man on the tour who grabbed the animal, causing it to release her from its jaws. "He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome," Mr Pisani said. There were 33 people, including three children, on the boat at the time of the attack.

A helicopter patrol failed to find the shark, but swimmers yesterday said that they saw a similar-sized shark circling a boat in the same area.

Ms Frankcom's mother Linda said that her daughter would not want the shark to be destroyed. "She had entered into their territory and she knew she was at risk. There's no way she would want that shark hunted down," she said.

The tour guide is interested in marine animals. She recently wrote on her Facebook page that she was aware of the risks that came with her job, and had recently heard about sightings of three great white sharks.

"If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doin' the thing I love," she wrote. "Time to use our shark shields soon maybe."

Ms Frankcom was wearing a shark shield, a device that uses electronic impulses to repel attacks, at the time of the attack, but it is not known why it did not deter the great white.

hnews@herald.ie


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