Man attacked by shark recalls good Samaritans saving his life: 'I could have bled out'

·3 min read

A man attacked by a shark Wednesday while swimming off the coast of California is talking about the “good luck” that followed his ordeal.

The victim, identified as Steve Bruemmer, 62, of Monterey, California, was swimming at Lovers Point Beach, in the city of Pacific Grove, when the shark attacked as he swam about 150 yards from shore.

Surgeons spent two hours working on Bruemmer, who has gone swimming once or twice a week in Monterey Bay for the last decade. He did not suffer any injuries to his arteries, bones or organs, although he does have a large shark bite near his pelvis. It’s unclear what kind of shark bit him.

“The shark bite was unlucky,” Bruemmer said in a statement. “But after that, I have just had so much good luck. And the day was so calm and warm, and the beach was crowded. There were no waves, and there was no chop. So people could hear me yelling “Help” from a great distance, including from the Rec Trail, where someone called 911.”

Nurse Aimee Johns and policeman Paul Bandy were paddleboarding near the scene and rushed to help. Surfer Heath Braddock was also in the area and grabbed an extra board to help transport Bruemmer back to shore.

“Those three (the surfer and the two paddleboarders) got me onto the extra board, and they had me hold the surfer’s ankle while he paddled like crazy to get me to the beach,” Bruemmer said. “They, along with several bystanders, including a doctor and a nurse who were on the beach for the day, helped put tourniquets on me and get me to the ambulance.”

Bruemmer was transported to Natividad Medical Center, in Salinas, California. While en route, he managed to size up the situation.

“I remember I was lying in the ambulance, and I thought, ‘My lungs are good. I can breathe.’ So I didn’t know if I was going to bleed to death, but my lungs were good,” he said. “And it seemed really lucky that the shark got me in a spot that seemed survivable. I was in the ambulance, thinking I don’t know if I was going to survive, but at least I could breathe.”

Bruemmer says he was told that he had “lost a tremendous amount of blood,” but a lot of other things appeared to go in his favor.

“Without all those things going right; If it had been a choppy day, then they wouldn’t have heard me on the Monterey Rec Trail. So yeah, I’m lucky. Without all those things going right, I could have bled out,” he said.

Medical officials say the Good Samaritans who rushed to the scene played a vital role in helping Bruemmer.

“The quick reaction of bystanders and EMTs placing tourniquets combined with the proximity of Natividad Trauma Center was crucial in saving Mr. Bruemmer’s life,” said Nativadad trauma surgeon Nicholas Rottler.

“Once we were operating, we realized that there weren’t major injuries, and it was mostly laceration washout and repair,” he continued.

Rottler said Bruemmer is indeed lucky.

“It was fortunate that Mr. Bruemmer could get to a trauma center in under an hour,” he said. “If there had been a longer travel time, he could have lost much more blood. As it is, he lost several liters and required a blood transfusion of close to 30 units (pints). Mr. Bruemmer is doing very well, is in good spirits, is stable and is expected to make a full recovery.”