A father-of-two has told of his miraculous tale of survival after fighting off a three-metre shark and being brought back to life by paramedics on the way to hospital.
Cameron Wrathall, 54, was swimming at Blackwall Reach in the Swan River, south Perth on January 14 when he battled the suspected bull shark, leaving him unable to walk.
‘The shark hit me really hard, it’s the biggest impact I’ve ever felt of something hitting me,’ Mr Wrathall told 7 News from his hospital bed in Perth.
Cameron Wrathall with daughter Keely (pictured) fought off a three-metre bull shark in Perth’s Swan River
He recounted how he acted on instinct and managed to fight off the shark.
‘It was then trying to shake from side to side to tear part of me away. It all happened very quickly, and I just did a kick onto part of it and a thrust down on my hands to push it off me and hit it pretty hard with the palms of my hands, and it went,’ he said.
He did not get away unscathed, however, with the shark biting down on his left upper leg, leaving a huge wound from his buttocks to his groin.
His friend, Richard O’Brien, enlisted the help of two kayakers and they managed to put a torniquet on the wound which had begun gushing blood.
‘There was a fair bit of blood in the water and the bite was quite a significant one, it was right at the top of his thigh, so it was a pretty decent bit,’ one of the kayakers said.
The battle left him with a huge scar on his left leg and a severed sciatic nerve in two places (pictured with staff at Royal Perth Hospital)
‘He didn’t have much blood by the time he got back to shore,’ Mr O’Brien said.
The three then helped him to shore, where paramedics rushed to the scene.
Mr Wrathall said his heart stopped in the ambulance, most likely from blood loss, but paramedics were able to bring him back.
In hospital, he was unconscious for two days, with trauma surgeons at Royal Perth Hospital performing numerous operations.
Mr Wrathall credits them, along MR O’Brien and paramedics with saving his life.
His two daughters Keely and Cian are grateful their father pulled through and said his positive attitude also helped him keep fighting.
They said they are happy he is back to his ‘cheery self’.
Mr Wrathall recovery will be long, however, with his sciatic nerve severed in two places from the shark bite, leaving him unable to walk.
Doctors say he will need years of rehabilitation before he is able to regain full use of both legs.
He also said he would be back swimming in the river when he is able.
The two kayakers who saved Mr Wrathall. The kayaker on the left is demonstrating how big the bite on Mr Wrathall’s upper right thigh was
The two kayakers who heard Mr Wrathall’s screams said there was blood in the water before going over to assist him at the popular swimming spot.
One of the kayakers took off his T-shirt and wrapped it around the wound before taking Mr Wrathall to shore.
Mr Wrathall worked at the Fremantle Water Polo Club and swam in the river almost every day.
Western Australia‘s fisheries department believes a bull shark two to three metres in size was responsible for the attack.
A water police vessel is on the scene and people have been cleared from the water.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the shark attack was a ‘a very, very surprising event’.
Perth’s Swan River. A 13-year-old boy died after he was bitten on the thigh by a bull shark while swimming in the Swan River near Mosman Park in 1923. This is the only recorded fatal bull shark attack in Perth’s Swan River
‘We haven’t had an attack by a bull shark in the river for 50 years, the last time someone was killed by a bull shark in the river was 100 years ago,’ he said.
‘I will get a full report from Fisheries in the next few days about this event and what can be done about these sorts of issues.’
A 13-year-old boy died after he was bitten on the thigh by a bull shark while swimming in the Swan River near Mosman Park in 1923.
This is the only recorded fatal bull shark attack in Perth’s Swan River.
Bull sharks are notorious for their aggressive nature, and presence in warm, shallow brackish and freshwater systems including estuaries, canals and rivers.
It are also known as the Zambezi shark in Africa, and ‘Lake Nicaragua shark’ in Nicaragua in South America.
Western Australia ‘s fisheries department believes a bull shark two to three metres in size was responsible for the attack (stock image)