WITNESS REPORT – FATAL attack on surfer at Lookout Beach, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa — 23 August 2011

This is a witness report to the fatal shark attack originally reported here.

Tim van Heerden, 49 was surfing with friends at Lookout Beach, Plettenberg Bay, South African, on 23 August 2011, when he was bitten twice on the leg and groin by what is believed to be a great white.

The other surfers managed to bring to shore but he died from blood loss despite the efforts of doctors to revive him.

One of his friends, Tim Clarke, who was on the beach at the time of the attack told media what he saw.

“He was lying on the board paddling back to the surf after a ride when I heard him scream as the shark hit him the first time and pulled him off the board. Tim was trying to climb back on when the shark came around and hit him again. I only saw the fin. Tim disappeared under the water for a moment and, when he came up a few seconds later, the sea around him turned red.”

A surfer, Cameron Payne, who was in the water at the time was quoted as saying:

“I was about 20 metres away from Tim. I was just lining up a wave when I heard one of the two Australian guys surfing with us shout ‘shark!’.

“I looked across and saw the shark’s tail thrashing as it churned up the water around him. There was a lot of blood.”

Another friend of Van Heerden’s, Charlie Reitz, who swam out to help the injured surfer back to shore, said he was just drifting, still clinging to his board after the attack.

“He was in really bad shape when I reached him. I think he had already bled out. He was not focusing and his eyes were glazed over.”

Another surfer on the beach at the time, Lloyd Chapman was quoted as saying:

“From the amount of blood, it was evident that the main femoral artery was severed. It looked like the femur was also broken.”

Payne and Reitz helped bring Van Heerden back to shore on his board and Payne told media he “didn’t want to look at the wound because it was really bad”.

Van Heerden had lost consciousness by the time volunteers and emergency rescue arrived at the scene shortly after the attack around 9am.

A National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson was quoted as saying:

Van Heerden “was on the rocks after being brought out by fellow surfers. Extensive resuscitation efforts commenced at the scene, in the ambulance and at the hospital, but he was declared dead by doctors”.



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