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Australian pro surfer mauled by shark

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Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 11:12:58-04

A professional surfer was hospitalized after he was mauled by a shark off the Australian eastern coast on Wednesday evening.

22-year-old Brett Connellan was surfing on Bombo Beach in Kiama, about 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) south of Sydney, when he was attacked. He lost a significant chunk of his left thigh, CNN-affiliate Seven News reports, and his hand was also mauled while trying to fight off the shark.

Witnesses say there were over a dozen surfers at the beach that evening but Connellan was around 50 meters (about 165 feet) out from the group when the attack occurred.

Quick thinking from bystanders

His friend Joel Trist, who was in the water nearby, describes the moment he realized his friend was in trouble.

“The first thing I saw was Brett getting thrashed about in the water,” Trist said. He then heard a “terrible scream.”

Quickly swimming towards his friend, he pulled him to the safety of the shore.

Police have praised the immediate first aid from Trist and two off-duty nurses who happened to be at the beach and administered a tourniquet.

“I grabbed his leg rope and tied it as hard as I could around the top of his thigh,” said Trist.

State paramedics were able to stabilize Connellan on the beach and he was airlifted to St. George Hospital in Sydney.

Connellan’s father said his son is now in a “serious but stable condition.”

Authorities are still investigating what kind of shark was involved. However, Connellan has requested that people refrain from hunting the animal.