AS paramedics carried 17-year-old surfer Cooper Allen down Light House Beach, on the NSW North Coast, he found the ability to crack a few jokes — despite just suffering a massive leg injury in a shark attack.
The youth was rushed to hospital after being bitten on the hip while surfing off Light House Beach about 9am.
He managed to get out of the water and was helped by a nurse and fellow surfers before being taken to Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition. Despite the horrific attack, which left large gouges in his leg, the 17-year-old only required stitches.
Police confirmed he suffered a bite wound to his hip and paramedics said that despite his obvious pain, the teen was able to joke.
“We stopped about midway down the beach to asses the patient, he was stable and in very good spirits,” a NSW Ambulance spokesman said.
“He found the time for a couple jokes — considering what he’d been through, he was very, very good.”
Earlier, several fellow surfers had helped the injured Cooper from the water and got him onto a stretcher.
“He said, ‘you can call my dad, but don’t tell mum yet’,” local surfer Dan Webber, who was in the water 5m away when the attack happened, told The Australian.
Cooper is well known on the local surfing circuit and lives across the road from the beach.
“I’m no doctor, but I think he’s going to be fines,” Mr Webber said.
There were four “huge” gashes in his leg about 5cm apart.
“So the shark was a massive f**king thing,” he said.
Amazingly, the young surfer only required stitches after the ordeal.
Mr Webber signalled to lifesavers who were on hand to assist with the injured teen.
Surf Lifesaving NSW told Channel 9 lifesavers had launched their first 2015/17 patrol prior to the attack and were able to respond “within moments of being alerted”.
Emergency services remain at the scene and a 3.5m great white was herded out to sea later this morning after being spotted close to the site of the attack.
The Department of Primary Industries said Surf Life Saving NSW crews used jetskis to keep the predator away from shallow water.
Aerial surveillance and “smart” buoys picked up at least two other white pointers this morning off the NSW north coast, including a 2.8m specimen at nearby Lennox Head.
A DPI spokeswoman said none of the sharks spotted had been deemed to pose any threat to swimmers or surfers, but the sightings were broadcast via social media.
The government last month abandoned a trial of an “eco” shark barrier off Lighthouse Beach due to difficulties with installing the device.
The DPI spokeswoman said the next phase of a trial of drones to spot sharks close to shore would begin this week off Lighthouse Beach and four other beaches along the NSW coast.
All beaches in the Ballina area will be closed for the next 24 hours as helicopters and lifesavers on surf skis patrol the nearby waters for any sign of the shark.
Cooper spoke of the need for shark barriers in the region only three months ago.
In July, Cooper told The Australian the NSW Government’s $16 million shark barrier trial – recently scrapped because of rough seas – was a waste of money.
“We still go out there without the net, at our own choice. I don’t think there is any need for it,” he said.
Authorities were due to install a 700m shark barrier on Lighthouse Beach, but were forced to scrap the plan due to rough conditions.
Rough waves dumped a large quantity of sand and authorities feared divers would be at risk if they attempted to swim into the dangerous conditions and carry out the installation.
A similar set up was also abandoned on nearby Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head, earlier this month after contractors spotted several problems with the design.
The NSW government maintains a suite of shark safety measures, including aerial surveillance and summer fly overs, 4G listening devices and drumlines and Premier Mike Baird said he had been briefed on the shark attack.
“I’ve been made aware but I’ll answer questions later,” he said shortly after landing in Forbes to assess flood affected properties.
The string of attacks in NSW’s far north has triggered calls for a shark cull but the state government has ruled the measure out.
Spate of attacks
The NSW’s North Coast has suffered several shark attacks in the past few years, including a fatality which occurred at the adjacent Shelly Beach last year.
The 41-year-old suffered major leg injuries during the attack and died at the scene from blood loss.
Shelly Beach is about a kilometre from the location of today’s attack.
Later in the year pro surfer Sam Morgan was attacked at Light House Beachand was forced to rush back to shore with several injuries.
He was forced to undergo two surgeries and months of rehab following the incident.
In August last year, veteran surfer Craig Ison also suffered serious injuries after being attacked by a great white nearby.
In 2015, NSW saw 14 shark attacks. Only one was fatal.
Taronga Zoo’s Shark Attack File lists four attacks in NSW this year.
List of attacks:
February 6, Newcastle (Merewether Beach) – Male bodysurfer bitten on foot by wobbegong shark. Minor lacerations.
February 8, Ballina (Seven Mile Beach) – White pointer attacks surfer Jabez Reitman, 35, about 60m from shore. Chunk of flesh ripped from his back and lacerations to hip.
February 9, Ballina (Shelly Beach) – Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara dies after 4m great white severs both legs in an attack close to shore.
May 3, Taree (Saltwater Beach) – Local man treated for serious wounds to his left arm and right hand after attempting to fight off a white pointer about 60m from shore.
July 1, Yamba (Flat Rock) – Great white severs nerves and tendons in male surfer’s hand after attacking as he paddled out through the breakers.
July 2, Ballina (Lighthouse Beach) – 32-year-old bodyboarder Mathew Lee mauled by 4m great white. Serious injuries to both his legs but both limbs saved in emergency surgery.
July 31, Evans Head (Main Beach) – Surfer Craig Ison, 52, attacked by a white pointer during morning surf, suffering serious wounds to his leg and arm.
August 22, Port Macquarie (Lighthouse Beach) – Bodyboarder Dale Carr loses 2.5l of blood after being mauled by 3m great white about 150m from shore.
September 4, Forster (Black Head Beach) – White pointer mauls surf-skier David Quinlivan, 65, as he paddles offshore. Serious wounds to his left ankle.
November 10 – Ballina (Lighthouse Beach) – Champion junior surfer Sam Morgan, 20, seriously injured after 3m bull shark mauls his left thigh.
March 30 – Kiama (Bombo Beach) – Surfer Brett Connellan, 23, loses 70% of his upper left leg and suffers deep wounds to his left hand in a white pointer attack about 100m from shore.
September 26 – Ballina (Lighthouse Beach) – 17-year-old surfer rushed to hospital with serious leg wounds after being mauled shortly before 9am.
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