A professional surfer was mauled by a shark off Australia's east coast on Wednesday evening, officials say. Brett Connellan, 22, was flown by helicopter to Sydney's St. George Hospital in serious condition after he was attacked 75 miles to the south, off a beach near Kiama, a police statement said, per the AP. He sustained injuries to a thigh and a hand in the attack off Bombo Beach at 7pm and was helped more than 100 yards to shore by fellow surfer Joel Trist, police say. Trist told reporters on Thursday he paddled as fast as he could toward his friend when he heard him scream. The shark had vanished before Trist covered the 50 yards to Connellan.
"I said to him: 'What's it like?' and he said: 'It's not good.' And at that point I knew something was horribly wrong," Trist said. Ambulance Service spokesman Terry Morrow says two beachgoers who were off-duty nurses saved Connellan's life by applying a tourniquet made from a surfboard leg rope to his upper thigh before paramedics reached the scene. "He had lost a large proportion of his left thigh, and the quad muscle was torn away right down to the bone," Morrow tells the Illawarra Mercury. "He could've bled to death before we arrived on scene. He was very lucky the members of the public were there and acted as they did." (Last year saw a record number of shark attacks, though there were only six deaths.)