Monster shark rips teen to death

Published Sep 12, 2003


By Helen Bamford

A huge great white shark killed a teenage bodyboarder at a popular surf break off Cape Town's Noordhoek beach on Friday, dragging him under the water in its massive jaws and tossing him into the air.

A group of surfers and bodyboarders watched in horror as David Bornman, 19, of Newlands was attacked.

He was helped to the beach but bled to death within minutes despite receiving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation from a fellow surfer.

The shark's teeth bit into his body, causing a massive injury from his back down to his thigh.

Shocked surfers Peter Whale and Brent Mills were in the water about 50m offshore at Dunes, a surfing spot near the Kakapo wreck, when they saw the shark strike.

Whale said he heard a loud splash even though there were no sets of waves coming through.

"I looked across and saw this guy in the shark's mouth. It was the biggest shark I've ever seen in my life. It took him under, then came up and just tossed him and then disappeared."

Whale said he shouted "shark!" and they all started paddling in furiously.

Mills said he saw Bornman catch a wave towards the shore.

"But the water around him turned red. The whole wave was just blood."

He paddled out to help the stricken teenager, who told him he couldn't breathe.

"I told him he still had his legs but I could tell the bite was bad. You could see into his body."

Whale, who is trained as a rescue diver, gave Bornman CPR for half an hour but he was dead within minutes.

Mills said that just before the attack Bornman had caught a really good wave.

"I turned to him and said 'nice wave'. How can it go from being so much fun to this?" he asked.

Skymed flight paramedic Andre Jooste said the shark must have been huge.

"I've worked in KwaZulu-Natal and seen a lot of bites but this was the largest and most destructive I've ever seen."

Jooste said Bornman would have lost his entire blood volume within two minutes. "There is no way he could have survived."

He said the shark probably mistook Bornman for a seal.

"He was wearing a black wetsuit and fins and was on a black boogie board so he must have looked like a seal."

SA Lifesaving has now banned bathing between Noordhoek Beach and Scarborough until further notice. This includes popular beaches such as Long Beach at Kommetjie.

Spokesman Nicholas Reyneke said the police helicopter would patrol the False Bay coast and Noordhoek area today and tomorrow.

"Alarm bells do need to start ringing especially with the number of sharks we've seen in our waters over the past year," he said.

Shark expert Theo Ferreira said great white shark attacks on humans were very rare.

Ferreira, the founder and director of the Great White Shark Project, said a six-year study had found that white sharks were not aggressive animals by nature but were inquisitive.

Ferreira said this was a sad incident because it often created mass hysteria. He said the shark was only doing what it did naturally.

"It's a reality that if you enter their domain you risk an encounter with the animal. This risk gets greater the more further out behind the back water you are," he said.

"The shark was obviously attracted to that area because of the activity of fish."

Previous attacks

- Last month, teenage surfer Joseph Krone escaped injury when a shark attacked him at Jeffreys Bay and bit his surfboard in three pieces.

- In December, 35-year-old crayfish diver Craig Bovim narrowly escaped death when he was savaged by a great white shark off Scarborough.

His forearms were badly lacerated by the shark's teeth as he desperately thrust his hands into its mouth to ward off the attack.

- In April 2001, an East London businessman, Dunstan Hogan, survived an attack by a great white shark while he was surfing at Cape St Francis. Hogan was hospitalised with a crescent-shaped bite wound on his thigh, buttock and hip.

- In July 1999, 14-year-old Hercules Pretorius died minutes after he was savaged by a shark at Buffels Bay near Knysna while bodyboarding with friends. The shark attacked him about 50m from the shore, biting him in the side.

- A 2001 report states that, in the past 20 years, nine people have died in shark attacks on the South African coast.

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