A Kiama man who was knocked off his feet and injured by a shark has told how his two young children were swimming in the same spot only minutes earlier.
Adam Hoare found himself between the predator and its prey during an after-school dip at Surf beach on Thursday – an “unlucky” encounter that saw him become collateral damage.
Mr Hoare, his six-year-old son, Matthew, and daughter April, 3, were at the beach when the incident happened in shallow water about 4pm.
There were large tuna swimming through the breakers, chasing small bait fish, at the time. As a result, the 35-year-old had earlier told his son they wouldn’t venture too far into the water.
“It was low tide, so it was really nice. It was really shallow pretty much all the way to out the back,” he said.
After a swim in the shallows with his kids, Mr Hoare sent them in to the shore and stayed in the water on his own.
He went under two waves and was returning to the beach when he was whacked from behind by what’s believed to have been a two-metre bull shark in waist-deep, “whitewashy and sandy” water.
“I was just walking backwards watching the waves come in and going ‘oh, wow, look at all the tuna’ and it [the shark] just came in like that [from the back side],” he said.
“I reckon it was just going straight for the tuna,” he said.
“It hasn’t actually bitten me, it’s just swum into me.
“It felt like I was hit with a sledgehammer in the leg.”
Mr Hoare was knocked off his feet and landed on the shark.
“It was like falling on a slippery rock, it was that solid. It just sort of went underneath me and [it was] gone,” he said.
“That was it ... in two or three seconds it was over.”
Mr Hoare then laid on his back and lifted his leg out of the water.
“I was like ‘my foot’s still there, so it’s all good’,” he said, before walking to the water’s edge and waving down a lifeguard.
The self-employed painter – who grew up in Kiama and has spent “thousands of hours” at the beach – said he only caught a glimpse of the creature, but “knew what it was straight away”.
He was adamant the shark didn’t bite him, despite suffering five puncture wounds to his left foot and his lower left leg.
“If it was trying to bite me I’d have no leg left, put it that way,” he said. “There was no crunch, there was no bite.”
Mr Hoare took himself to Shellharbour Hospital for treatment.
An X-ray was also done to see if the impact had broken his ankle. It hadn’t.
On Friday, he was recovering at home with April – grateful she, and Matthew, weren’t hurt.
“I had her in my arms five minutes before in the same spot,” he said, adding Matthew had also been out on his bodyboard.
“It was just a total freak accident – in the way at the wrong time.”