Editorial May 17 2017

The events on the night of March 30, 2016, remain firmly implanted on this region.

The date was the night the region had its first serious shark attack in decades.

After a moment’s shock on hearing the reports filter into the newsroom, the Mercury attended at the scene at Bombo to be greeted by a badly bleeding Brett Connellan being loaded into an ambulance.

What quickly became apparent over following days was the heroic acts of a few individuals, who together saved Brett’s life that fateful evening.

Take, for example, Brett's friend Joel Trist.

Despite the water being filled with blood and the shark being present, Joel swam towards his stricken mate and managed to drag him safely to shore.

Joel’s partner and registered Wollongong Hospital nurse Aggie Krowka watched the drama unfold, ran up the beach to raise the alarm with emergency services telling them “we need a helicopter! We need blood! We’re going to lose him!”.

And, by chance, another off-duty nurse, John Neville, who helped Joel fashion leg ropes into life-saving tourniquets to stem Brett’s bleeding.

Like it has the community as a whole, the night of March 30, 2016, has had a different lingering impact on each of the people involved.

Formerly a keen open water swimmer Ms Krowka said she these days rarely ventures into open water.

While Mr Trist has returned to his passion of surfing, the events of the night have certainly changed his awareness while in the surf.

For the victim Brett on the other hand, he’s made a remarkable recovery and showed little fear in getting back in the water and back to his surfboard.

On Monday, John Neville, Aggie Krowka and Joel Trist (pictured from left to right with Lieutenant Governor, the Hon. Thomas Bathurst, AC) were presented with certificates of commendation from the Lieutenant Governor of NSW at Government House for their acts of bravery.

Their certificates represent a life saved by their actions. That is an amazing honour to carry through life and something for which to be incredibly proud.

Congratulations to John, Aggie and Joel and to Brett for their amazing bravery and for being part of a happy ending to a night which will linger long in the memory of this region.


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