A spearfishing trip to the Great Barrier Reef for a group of friends turned into a nightmarish ordeal on Sunday, October 25. One of the spearfishermen, Rick Bettua, was attacked by a shark. The mauling left the man with catastrophic wounds to his upper left thigh. His friends rushed him back to shore from where he was taken to a hospital for emergency surgery. By Monday, October 26, his condition was stable and he had regained consciousness.
The fishing party had gone to the Britomart Reef off Hinchinbrook Island around 140 kilometres north of Townsville, Queensland. At around 12 pm, the 59-year-old man was witnessed to have been savaged by a shark.
The former United States navy divemaster is believed to have been a victim of a bull shark attack. Having sustained injuries to his leg, Bettua was able to make it back to the boat. A distress beacon was set off as the group rushed back to Dungeness Boatramp in Townsville.
Bettua had gaping wounds to his left thigh and was bleeding out. According to Nine News, his friend created a makeshift tourniquet which prevented him from bleeding to death.
By the time the group reached the mainland, Bettua reportedly did not have a pulse. The paramedics had to resuscitate the man before he was taken to a hospital, paramedic Ruiyi Yin revealed. The shark attack victim was then taken to Townsville Hospital. His condition was critical and he required emergency surgery.
After the surgery last night, Bettua's condition was reportedly stable. Today , 9 News revealed that he had regained consciousness and was recovering well from the surgery.
Bettua, originally from Hawaii, has been living in Australia for years. In 2017, he was present when his friend, Glenn Dickson, was attacked by a shark while spearfishing off the North Queensland coast. The retired navy diver and his other friends jumped into action to save the life of the shark attack victim years ago.
Speaking about the recent attack, Dickson expressed his shock at the incident. He had lost his leg following his own shark encounter. It is unclear if Bettua had his leg amputated.
Seven shark attack deaths have been recorded in Australia this year so far. There has been a notable spike in shark attacks recorded off the Australian coast.