A COURAGEOUS man has been hailed a hero after he pulled the tail of a shark as it savaged a young tour guide on a snorkelling expedition near Rockingham.
Rescuers praised the man’s brave actions, saying he saved the woman from further injury from the jaws of the ocean predator, believed to be a 3m great white shark.
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Nineteen-year-old Elyse Frankcom had been hosting a swim-with-the-dolphins tour for Rockingham Wild Encounters when the shark attacked – biting into her hip and left buttock at 12.30pm.
Last night (Saturday), Miss Frankcom was in a stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital following surgery to repair the damage.
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The attack happened off Garden Island Naval Base, at the northern end.
It came just 10 weeks after Busselton surfer Nick Edwards was killed by a monster great white off Gracetown in the South-West.
And it took place just 35km north of Port Kennedy, where father-of-three Brian Guest was mauled to death by a big great white while snorkelling with his son in December 2008.
The unnamed hero calmly walked off the tour boat when it returned to shore and was too modest to stop for a media interview.
“All I want is the girl to be OK,” he said.
Recovering in Royal Perth Hospital
Concerned family and friends of Ms Frankcom kept vigil at Royal Perth Hospital.
Her older sister, Samantha, said Ms Frankcom was in good hands and would not likely be deterred from returning to the water.
“Elyse is in high spirits. She should be okay to leave hospital tomorrow,” she said.
Samantha said her younger sister would definitely return to the water, despite the brush with death.
“She loves the water. You can’t tear her away from it,” she told The Sunday Times.
“This won’t scare her away. She will definitely go back. It’s been a passion for her since she was a child.”
The 19-year-old diver recently commented on shark attacks on her Facebook page.
“If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doin (sic) the thing I love,” she said.
Her parents formerly operated a scuba diving business in Mandurah.
“My sister was training to become a `dolphin girl’ for the dive tours,” Samantha Frankcom said.
“Her job would be to find the dolphins and bring them to the surface for people to swim with.”
Rescuer praised ‘hero’ who grabbed shark’s tail
Fremantle Sea Rescue senior skipper Frank Pisani, one of the first rescuers on scene, said Ms Frankcom would not likely have survived the vicious attack had one of the passengers not bravely intervened.
“As the shark bit her, it brushed aside a fairly large male who grabbed hold of the tail of the shark, which then made it let go,” Mr Pisani said.
“The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back on board the boat. He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome.”
Mr Pisani said there was a paramedic on the boat, but no first-aid equipment, so sea rescue volunteers worked to stabilise the badly bleeding victim.
“We used all our first-aid equipment and did all we could to stem the bleeding before the RAC rescue helicopter arrived,” he said.
“There were very deep puncture wounds, quite wide but there was no actual loss of flesh.”
Ms Frankcom was taken to HMAS Stirling base, where she was treated by naval medics before being airlifted to RPH.
Rescuers said Ms Frankcom, who remained conscious after the attack, told dive boat operators and first-aiders that she believed the shark was a great white.
It is understood Ms Frankcom is a videographer and tour guide with Rockingham Wild Encounters, which operates the Apollo 3 charter.
Rockingham Wild Encounters operations director Aaron Heath said Ms Frankcom was one of two crew members who were wearing shark shields, which are designed to repel attacks using electronic impulses.
She had recently praised the shields on her Facebook page, saying: “The ocean is a beautiful place and you feel so much safer knowing one genius was able to invent an incredible piece of technology to help enjoy it with more peace.”
via Hero snorkeller grabs shark to save attack victim | Perth Now.