WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A French tourist was recovering in a New Zealand hospital Thursday after a shark mauled her leg while she was bodyboarding at a remote beach.
The woman, who appeared to be in her early 20s, remained conscious and calm after the attack, said Catlins Surf School owner Nick Smart. He said her friends dragged her up the beach and used towels to apply pressure to her wound and stanch the bleeding.
Smart told The Associated Press that he’d just finished instructing seven surfers on a warm and calm afternoon when the shark attacked at Porpoise Bay near the southern end of New Zealand.
“I saw somebody running and instantly had a very strong feeling that things were not right,” Smart said.
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He drove several hundred meters (yards) down the beach to where the woman was being dragged from the waves. He said she’d been playing in the surf with her boyfriend and another French couple.
“She handled it really, really well,” Smart said. “She was calm, not at all hysterical. I assured her she wasn’t going to die, and that a helicopter would be coming. She was in a bit of shock.”
Smart said the woman was wearing a wetsuit and he couldn’t see the full extent of her wound, although it was clear she’d lost some blood and would need many stitches.
He said he brought a stretcher to the woman and they moved her to a beach house that had a fire going while they waited about 40 minutes for a helicopter to arrive.
The woman was flown about 160 kilometers (100 miles) to Dunedin Hospital.
A duty manager at the hospital said Thursday evening that the woman remained there in a stable condition and was continuing to have her injuries assessed.