Locals rushed to save the life of an avid swimmer after she was mauled by a shark during her regular morning dip at a small seaside South Australian town.
Pamela Cook, 64, was attacked at Beachport just before 8am on Monday while swimming with local community group Beachport Sea Urchins and Slugs.
The swimmers meet everyday at 7.30am at the town’s rotunda before dipping into the sea near the landmark Beachport Jetty.
Ms Cook works at Beachport Hotel and a fellow employee said Ms Cook went swimming every day with her friends.
“They do it every day and they have done for 30 years,” he said.
“There has never ever been any kind of thing like this before.”
Ms Cook was bitten on the leg, suffering serious injuries.
She was helped to shore and given first aid by bystanders until paramedics arrived.
Greg Rae, a maintenance worker, applied a tourniquet to her leg.
“We heard the lady calling out for help,” he told ABC Adelaide.
“There was a couple of ladies running in and they were covered in a bit of blood and they mentioned a shark attack.
“We immediately just jumped in, went and grabbed our trauma gear and first aid equipment and then responded.
“I was the one who grabbed the gear, ran out quite far out on the jetty, probably a couple of hundred metres.”
Mr Rae said Ms Cook suffered multiple wounds to her thigh and a cut on her hand.
He said she was in shock from the horror attack.
“The big concern for me at the time was shock, so just keeping her talking and keeping her assured she‘s OK and we’ve got ambos coming.”
An SA Ambulance spokesperson said Ms Cook was taken to Mount Gambier Hospital, about 85km from Beachport and about 385km south of Adelaide near the Victorian border.
It is understood Ms Cook is now in a stable condition.
Beachport Hotel owner Geoff Wells told The Adelaide Advertiser that the small community was in “shock” following the attack.
“We’re only a small community and we’re all in a bit of shock. I’ve been here for eight years and nothing like this has happened before,” he said.
A local said the swimmers were a “wonderful group of ladies” who would gather at Waterfront Cafe at the jetty following their morning swim.
“They are a very close-knit group and it’s really going to hit them hard,” she said.
SES South Australia is preparing to launch drones to locate and identify the shark, which is believed to be a juvenile great white.
“Our crews have been requested to assist South Australian police with a drone search,” an SES spokesman said.
“We’ve got two crews currently there at the moment and we are just waiting for our flight plans to be approved so our pilots can put our drones up.”
The pilots will scour the waters with Phantom 4 drones up to 800m offshore and 500m north and south of the jetty, the spokesman said.
The attack comes just weeks after a shark attack at Port Macquarie in NSW left surfer Toby Begg fighting for his life in hospital.
It also follows the death in May of teacher Simon Baccanello, who was believed to have been killed by a shark while surfing at Walkers Rock near Ellison on South Australia’s west coast.
A witness claims he saw a shark drag Mr Baccanello underwater.