An Australian surfer is "lucky to be alive" after a great white shark attacked him from below while he was lying on his surfboard off Iluka in New South Wales.
The impact by the shark tossed Abe McGrath into the air, snapped his surfboard in half and left a gaping wound in his right hip, according to several Australian news outlets.
Fellow surfer Bryce Cameron was just about to enter the water at Main Beach and join 35-year-old McGrath when the attack occurred around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
"He is pretty much the luckiest man on the earth right now," Cameron told The Daily Telegraph. "He was lying on his board, but if he had been sitting on it he would have lost a leg."
Another witness, Amber Hopkins, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., "This man is lucky to be alive."
Cameron said McGrath got a look at the shark and said it was an 11-foot great white shark.
"In the big scheme of things that is a juvenile, but it is still big enough to kill," Cameron told The Daily Telegraph.
"The impact lifted him up. The shark was coming from the deep and hit [Abe's board] with its nose and opened its mouth and latched on the board."
McGrath told police the shark then began to circle him but turned away, according to The Australian. He then grabbed half his surfboard and made his way to shore.
Elijah Colbey was surfing 55 yards away from McGrath when the incident unfolded. He heard his name being called out and went to help; they swam to shore together.
"I grabbed his two broken bits of surfboard and we looked at each other and counted our blessings that we could actually walk away," Colbey told The Daily Telegraph.
"He was very stoked to be able to walk up the beach with me … we could look back on it and be very stoked but also shaken up and in shock."
Colbey drove McGrath to Ballina Hospital, where he was treated for lacerations on his right hip, and then was transported to Lismore Hospital.
"He's shocked and very rattled," Colbey told The Australian.
Officials immediately closed Main and Bluff beaches.
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