Surfer who lost ‘large chunk’ of thigh in horror shark attack reveals how he survived


A professional surfer whose life was saved by a quick-thinking friend and two off duty nurses after he was savagely mauled by a shark, has spoken out five years after the attack.

Brett Connellan was 22 when he suffered serious injuries to his thigh and hand off the east coast of Australia in May 2016.

Fellow surfer Joel Trist and two passing beach-goers, who also happened to be nurses raced over and stopped him from bleeding to death as they waited for paramedics to arrive.

He was flown by helicopter to hospital, but the shark had taken three quarters of one of his legs, and doctor feared he would never walk again.

Brett’s dramatic story is now featuring in a documentary called ‘Pyrophytic’ tracking his life following the attack and watching his recovery.

Brett in hospital back in 2016

In a trailer he said: ” never wanted to be defined by the incident or remembered as the guy that got attacked by a shark.

“I want to be remembered for what I did afterwards.”

One of his doctors added: “The biggest issue that we had with Brett I think was trying to slow him down.”

Speaking to reporters back in 2016, after watching friend was airlifted to Sydney’s St George Hospital, Joel Trist said he heard a scream and paddled towards Brett as fast as he could.

“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,” Mr Trist said.

Brett battled back to health

Mr Trist said he dragged his friend onto his board and caught a wave to shore.

Ambulance Terry Morrow said at the time that the off-duty nurses saved Mr Connellan’s life.

They applied a tourniquet made from a surfboard leg rope to the surfer’s 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,” Mr Morrow told the Illawarra Mercury newspaper in 2016.

Brett Connellan was mauled by shark at Bombo Beach, Kiama

“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.”

The documentary is due out late next year.

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