Two British tourists who were first at the scene after bodyboarder David Lilienfeld was killed in a shark attack at Kogel Bay have described the incident as a “blood-filled nightmare”.
“We saw this huge figure rise from the water. It was absolutely relentless in its attack,” 30-year-old Sam Jefferies, from London, told Weekend Argus yesterday.
He and his parents Judy and Gordon, as well as his brother Harry, 25, were driving back to Fish Hoek from Hermanus when they witnessed the attack on Lilienfeld, 20, from Camps Bay, who died after the shark ripped off his right leg.
Harry told of how they stopped at a viewpoint to take in the scenery.
“It was such a perfect day and we saw two bodyboarders out in the water.
“They looked like they were having so much fun.”
When the shark attacked, every agonising minute was clearly visible.
“It rammed David three or four times in a matter of seconds. He managed to fight back a bit using his board, but there was no escape.
“After being hit a third time, David sank into the water. The piece of ocean where he had gone down turned red with blood,” Harry said.
Sam said they rushed down the cliff to try to reach David.
“It couldn’t have taken us five minutes to get down there. His brother Gustav was still making his way to the shore. We knew he (David) would be severely injured because of the blood but thought that if we could reach him in time we could save his life.”
Meanwhile, their parents ran to warn other people on the beach about the shark.
Sam and Harry said they warned off another surfer about 100 metres from where the attack took place, and he joined them on the rocks to search for David.
They found his bodyboard first. It had been carried in by the waves and was being pushed on to the rocks.
By now, they were joined by David’s younger brother Gustav and the four finally spotted David’s body, floating face-down in the shallows.
“We went to retrieve him from the water, and saw his right leg had been torn off from the lower hip. He had been frothing from the mouth,” Sam said, adding that there was “so much blood”.
But they quickly moved David to higher ground as the shark remained nearby.
Harry said Gustav was in complete shock, and kept saying: “Oh God. Please let him be okay.”
“I remember checking his pulse - there was nothing.”
The surfer, whose name they did not get, also checked for a pulse, and then told Gustav there wasn’t one.
“He cried and cried as we waited for emergency services. We all hugged before going our separate ways.”
Sam and Harry said they couldn’t be sure whether David died as a result of blood loss or if he had drowned.
They suggested the froth at his mouth may have indicated that that he had drowned.
“We only found out later that David and Gustav were brothers. That made the attack hit us so much harder because they were brothers, like us,” they said.
It was an incredibly traumatic experience for them, they said. They hoped to get in touch with the Lilienfeld family to offer their condolences.
“We want them to know exactly what happened to David and how brave he was.”
Len Bradford, of Reef wetsuits, told Weekend Argus that David had been one of the country’s top bodyboarders.
“He was SA junior champ in 2009, and was selected for last year’s SA national bodyboarding team, representing SA at the World Games in the Canary Islands last November.
“He was an amazing sportsman, but a very humble guy. Very soft-spoken,” he said.
“It’s a great loss to our sport, and to everyone,” he said. - Saturday Argus