A 6-foot hole in the anti-shark safety nets guarding the beach at Boucan Canot on Reunion Island prompted officials to raise the red flag Saturday, but that didn’t stop a dozen or so surfers from entering the water.
“That same morning the nets were inspected a 2-meter hole was found, so they closed the beach,” South African surfer Davy Stolk told Zigzag, a surfing magazine in South Africa. “But the swell was big so the guys still hit the water while the waves were breaking over the nets.”
Officials were obviously worried about a possible shark attack, and those worst fears were realized when a 21-year-old student from nearby Etang Sale was bitten twice by a 10-foot bull shark, according to Surfing Life and local news outlet LINFO.Re.
Laurent Chardard lost an arm and a foot in the shark attack that occurred around 5 p.m. local time on the island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.A beach at Boucan Canot on Reunion Island, site of Saturday’s shark attack. Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Lifeguard Bertrand Babef, who was injured during the rescue, noticed Chardard was missing a limb as he approached him.
“The only words he managed to say in the water was ‘Leave me,’” Babef told LINFO.Re, as translated by Google Translate. “He felt like dying, I think. Life comes first. Our duty was to bring him in.”
Chardard was treated on the beach before being transported by helicopter to a hospital in Saint-Denis. The two limbs were amputated because of the severity of the wounds. LINFO.Re reported Tuesday that Chardard is no longer in a medically induced coma.
As for Babef, he said “I break leg and forehead” when a wave toppled his jetski while on the way to rescue Chardard, but his injuries didn’t deter him. He underwent surgery on Monday.
Babef told LINFO.Re he can’t blame Chardard for surfing, “even if it puts my life in danger … but when the MNS [Master Swimmer Lifeguard] puts the red flag out and the safety nets are breached, stop thinking it’s just to annoy you. The danger is real.”
Indeed it is. Reunion Island has a history of shark attacks, with 19 taking place since 2011. Seven were fatal and more than half involved surfers or body boarders.
According to International Business Times, Reunion Island shark attacks reached their peak in 2013, forcing the government to ban surfing and swimming on all beaches. They were reopened following the installation of shark barriers and monitoring technology.
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