'My worst nightmare coming to fruition': Surfer recalls staring into shark's eyes before it tore off chunk of his leg

15 March 2023, 21:41 | Updated: 15 March 2023, 21:48

Brett Connellan
Brett Connellan. Picture: Instagram

By Kit Heren

A surfer has recalled the moment he stared into the eyes of a shark before it launched into a brutal attack.

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Brett Connellan, 22, was off Bombo Beach near Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, when the shark approached in March 2016.

The bull shark bit into his leg and pulled him off his surfboard, he recounted in new documentary Attacking Life, by Australian streaming service Stan.

"The look in the shark's eyes, in the moment it's one of the most terrifying things you can look at because it's not something you can reason with," Mr Connellan said.

"It's this realisation that my worst nightmare is coming to fruition right in front of me and I can't do anything about it.

Brett Connellan in hospital
Brett Connellan in hospital. Picture: Instagram

"The most vivid thing I can remember is the touch and feel of the shark's skin as I'm trying to push it away or hold it at arm's length.

"It was kind of really rough, which was a strange sensation to remember.

"One of the other things that sticks out to me was the lack of sound. It was like someone completely turned the sound off, there was not even the ringing sound in the background, it was just dead silence."

Mr Connellan's leg after the attack
Mr Connellan's leg after the attack. Picture: Instagram

The shark tore off a large part of Mr Connellan's leg, before coming back for a second attack.

Read more: Diver's 'head and shoulders ripped off' by great white shark in first fatal shark attack of 2023

Read more: Missing father-of-three discovered in stomach of shark after family identify his tattoo

He tried to push the shark away, before his friend came to his rescue, having heard a "blood-curdling scream".

His wife Agie, a nurse, performed first aid and slowed the bleeding with a surfboard rope as a makeshift tourniquet.

Mr Connellan completing rehab
Mr Connellan completing rehab. Picture: Instagram

Surgeons battled to save Mr Connellan's leg, and he was told he might never walk again. Now 29, after years of rehabilitation, he is back in the water.

He said: "I never wanted to be defined by the incident, or remembered as the guy who got attacked by a shark.

"I want to be remembered for what I did afterwards."

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