shark attack: Diver tells of cheating death in Australia

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Posted by on January 17, 2006 at 10:27:08:

An Ulsterman has described how he escaped being savaged to death after he was attacked by a shark off the west coast of Australia.

Brian 'Bernie' Williams, whose family emigrated from Londonderry more than 30 years ago, also told how he tried to fight off the killer shark with a spear gun.

Mr Williams was diving for lobsters off a beach in Perth, Western Australia at the weekend when what is thought to have been a 3.5 metre Great White shark bit into his left arm and dragged him through the water before trying to take a second bite.

The 52-year-old electrician told how he managed to wrench his arm free and flee to a seabed crevice until he was rescued.

He revealed that the shark - the biggest he had ever seen in 20 years of diving - lunged at him for a second time while he waited for help from his co-divers.

Fisherman Simon Rodwell and his brother-in-law Alex Bain leapt into action when they spotted Mr Williams getting into difficulty.

They were on the scene within a matter of minutes, armed with a fish-repelling electrical prod but the shark had already disappeared.

Father-of-three Mr Williams expressed his gratitude to the two men.

Reliving the attack, he said: "I just felt like I'd been hit by a truck on the side, and there was a very large shark head hanging off my arm, trying to chew it."

"I'll definitely be investing in a shark prod," he added.

Mr Williams, who amazing only suffered lacerations during Sunday's close encounter, described the situation as scary, but said it had not put him off diving.

Mr Williams, who was treated at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, has now been discharged to continue his recovery at home.

He recalled: "Luckily I was carrying a spear gun and a cray lever at the time, and it chomped on that, chomped me on the arm, took me for a ride for about two metres, shook me up a bit," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC.

"First time it came at me, I stabbed it on the nose with a spear gun, but it was just like hitting a lump of steel.

"When I got on the boat, I was shaking. I was scared out of my wits when I thought about it but at the time it was just a reaction," said Mr Williams.

Police Inspector George Putland said: "He was believed to be away from the other divers at the time of the attack and the shark attacked from behind, grabbing and biting his arm.

"He hit out at the shark with his spear gun and eventually the shark swam away. The other two divers assisted him onto the boat and administered first aid and he was then conveyed to a waiting ambulance."

He was treated at the scene by St John Ambulance before being taken to hospital.

Another boat in the area had earlier reported seeing a Great White shark circling their vessel.

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