Selfless heroism saved Cape Town shark attack man
Published 30 September 2011
The selfless actions of two good Samaritans saved the life of a British man attacked by a Great White shark off Cape Town this week.
Michael Cohen was swimming in the water at Fish Hoek even though the beach had been closed to swimmers following shark sightings.
The shark bit off Mr Cohen’s right leg but he survived the attack thanks to the quick thinking of Hugh Till and Douglas Drysdale, who were passing by at the time and had stopped their car to warn him of the approaching shark.
After the attack, they ran into the bloodied water as bystanders shouted that the shark was still close by.
They managed to pull Mr Cohen, 42, safely to shore and he was taken to hospital by ambulance where remains in a critical but stable condition.
He was operated on by Professor Andrew Nicol who, according to The Telegraph, said the nature of Mr Cohen’s injuries “does take your breath away”.
Having lost 70 per cent of his blood, Prof Nicol added: “There’s no doubt he is very very very lucky to be alive.”
Mr Till and Mr Drysdale were returning from their work as “spiritual guidance volunteers” at the local maximum security prison at the time of the attack.
According to witnesses, the three men were protected by a seal as they tried to reach the shore.
Craig Lambinon, of South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “Without hesitation the two good Samaritans kicked off their shoes and plunged into the water and waded through the surf to reach the injured swimmer.
“At this stage bystanders were screaming at the men, who both admit that progress was slow going, that the shark was not 10 metres from them.
“A seal was swimming close by during the entire episode. Witnesses confirmed that it circled the men as they gradually waded ashore with the victim.”
Mr Till explained further: “As Douglas and I were pulling him in towards the shore, the seal frolicked nearby, and kept swimming past us, it seemed rather agitated.
“It occurred to us afterwards, how unusual it was for a seal to stick around in an area where a shark is, or where there is blood.
“It really did feel to us as though he was offering support to us, or the swimmer, and was prepared to act as a diversion if the shark went after us as well.”