Cape Town.  120419.  Shark victim’s father and brother walk to their car after identifying David Lilienfeld's body at Koel Bay.
Photo by Michael Walker
Cape Town. 120419. Shark victim’s father and brother walk to their car after identifying David Lilienfeld's body at Koel Bay. Photo by Michael Walker

‘He died doing what he loved’

By Time of article published Apr 20, 2012

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Caryn Dolley

A FOUR-METRE great white shark surged towards Camps Bay bodyboarder David Lilienfeld riding waves just outside Gordons Bay.

Moments after it swam away, and right next to Lilienfeld’s brother Gustav, the shark returned and lunged at David Lilienfeld a second time.

Lilienfeld tried to fight the shark off with his board.

“It killed him (David) on the third attempt. It bit his leg clean off,” said Mat Marais, a keen surfer who witnessed the attack yesterday.

Lilienfeld, 20, died at the scene.

A policewoman said Lilienfeld’s father, Dirk, a medical practitioner from Camps Bay, asked that this message be given to the media gathered at the scene: “David was a Springbok bodyboarder. This was his life and he died doing what he loved.”

His right leg was severed below the hip. He had no other visible injuries.

Gustav, 18, who had tried to save his older brother, managed to get David’s body on to a board and towards the shore, and escaped without injury.

Marais said that after Gustav got his brother’s body near the shore, other friends, surfers, bodyboarders and bystanders, struggled to pull the body on to land as the shark was still swimming nearby in shallow water.

“They couldn’t go in to fetch him,” Marais said.

Lilienfeld’s body could be moved to land only once the shark had left.

Marais said that about 20 minutes before the attack at 12.41pm at a popular surf- ing spot between Kogel Bay and

Gordon’s Bay known as Dappat se Gat, there had been many dolphins in the water.

“About three minutes after I got out the water, one of the guys said: ‘Was that a shark attack?’

“The shark came back for the bodyboarder three times. It killed him the third time. It was between three and four metres. When its tail fin came out, it was quite large,” he said.

When people realised an attack had occurred, Marais said, they rushed to help David Lilienfeld and his brother.

People who had been standing at a parking lot at the top of a hill near the surfing spot, rushed down to see if Lilienfeld could be saved and called emergency services.

But Marais said Lilienfeld died after losing a vast amount of blood.

He said emergency services arrived 10 minutes after the attack but could not save him.

“Conditions were good. It was your dream day becoming your worst nightmare,” he said.

Marais said he had surfed at the spot for 19 years and it was the first fatal shark attack there that he could recall.

He said the last attack had occurred years ago and surfer Sergio Capri confirmed to the Cape Times he had been attacked more than two decades ago.

A number of people told the Cape Times they had spotted at least two sharks in the water yesterday.

Lilienfeld’s friends started gathering and a number could be seen, tears streaming down their faces, sitting on a ledge overlooking the spot where Lilienfeld’s body lay.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” was all one friend managed to say before breaking down.

A rescue worker could be seen standing on a rocky patch near the body and police said Gustav was still with his brother’s body.

Lilienfeld’s father, Dirk Lilienfeld, looking dazed, arrived and was led from the parking area to his son’s body so that he could identify it.

A while later Gustav, appearing shellshocked and clutching a surfboard, and his father walked back up to the parking area from Lilienfeld’s body.

Friends rushed to comfort them and the two left soon after briefly speaking to police.

Police confirmed Gustav had been at his brother’s side when the attack happened and had tried to help him.

Officers said another friend, Kirk Morgan, had also been present when the attack took place.

When rescue workers and police carried Lilienfeld’s body up to the parking area, his friends broke down again and hugged one another.

One of them, who declined to be named, said they had not been present when the attack happened.

“Please just mention the issue of chumming. I don’t know why the shark would come back for him,” he said.

In the weeks leading up to yesterday’s attack, chumming had made headlines because of filming for the documentary Shark Men, which involved research being done in False Bay and on the southern Cape coast.

But following yesterday’s attack, the environmental affairs department cancelled the permits enabling the programme and research to go ahead.

Yesterday National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon said after Lilienfeld was attacked, witnesses had reported seeing up to six sharks in the area.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said an inquest docket had been registered to probe the attack.

Late yesterday, as news of Lilienfeld’s death spread, condolence messages started pouring in for him.

Lilienfeld was a member of the South African bodyboarding team at the International Surfing Association Bodyboarding Championships in the Canaries late last year.

In a shark attack in September near Fish Hoek beach Michael Cohen’s leg was partially amputated. He survived.

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