When a shark attacked his wife while she was surfing, Mark immediately jumped to her rescue without thinking. His heroic actions saved her life.

Most of us will never have to come face to face with a shark in our lives–if we are lucky. But even those who have probably never thought it would happen to them.

When Mark Rapley’s wife Chantelle was attacked by one while she was surfing, he didn’t stop to think. Indeed, there was no time. All that mattered was saving her life. But he successfully did so and now Mark tells his story.

It grabbed his wife’s leg

Chantelle, 35, was surfing at Shelly Beach when suddenly, the 2-3 meter (6-1/2 ft to 10 ft) shark latched onto her leg. She was surfing only a few meters away from her husband.

It hit her with a force, threw her off the board.

“It was unbelievable, the scream was incredible and there was splashing everywhere,” witness Jed Toohey told The Daily Telegraph.  

Mark didn’t think twice. He Mark pulled his wife up onto his own board before punching the shark as it would not let go of her.

“This fella paddled over and jumped off his board onto the shark and hit it to get it to release her and then assisted her back into the beach,” Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce said. “Pretty full on, really heroic.”

It felt like punching a “brick wall”

“When I got over there I saw it was on her calf, your immediate reaction is ‘get off her calf’ so I was trying to leverage punches down onto it.”

So Mark proceeded to repeatedly punch the shark until it would leave his wife alone. “It was like punching a brick wall,” he said.

Thankfully, Mark was able to save her. Once Chantelle was safely on shore, a group of surfers helped by applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. She suffered serious leg injuries and was flown to a bigger hospital where she had nine hours of surgery.

What Mark was thinking

In situations of danger, there is often no time for thinking. But it still takes an insane amount of heroism to put yourself in danger in order to save someone else’s life. But Mark’s quick thinking and bravery show just how much of a hero he is.

You see the mother of your child, your support, everything… so you just react… all I could think is just ‘get off.’

Despite the attack, Chantelle still felt bad for the shark. “She’s a conservationist and a botanist, doing a PhD… she was kind of worried about the shark,” Mark said.

Watch this Goalcast video, if you need to feel empowered:

Be the hero other people need

Hopefully, we will never have to be confronted to a shark in our lives. Yet, it doesn’t mean that we can’t step up as heroes, when the situation calls for it.

Whether it is for someone you care about or a complete stranger, being a hero sometimes only means being there and showing up when help is needed. There are many ways to change someone’s life, and it doesn’t always involve a shark attack.

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