A retired marine biologist who had his arm mauled by a bull shark said “I’m glad it was me and not a child” as his wife and others tried to stop the bleeding.
A retired marine biologist who had his arm mauled by a bull shark said “I’m glad it was me and not a child” as his wife and others tried to stop the bleeding.

Shark victim: ‘I’m glad it was me and not a child’

A retired marine scientist who had his arm mauled to shreds by a bull shark in Lake Macquarie said "I'm glad it was me and not a child" as his wife and other witnesses tried to stop the bleeding and save his life.

Picturesque Yarrawonga Park on the western shores of the lake was busy with families playing in the shallows and groups drifting on inflatable beds on Saturday afternoon.

Rick Burbury and his doctor wife Julie arrived with their two rescue poodles having walked, as they often did, from their home in nearby Balcolyn.

Rick Burbury was taken to hospital by ambulance helicopter. Picture: TNV
Rick Burbury was taken to hospital by ambulance helicopter. Picture: TNV

 

Picture: TNV
Picture: TNV

Rick dived in for a swim around 6.30pm right in front of the waterfront home the couple used to own before selling up four years ago.

He was about 30m from shore when the shark attacked his left arm.

Julie and off-duty lifeguard Matthew Lumby dragged him to shore and fixed a makeshift tourniquet to his upper arm. Mr Lumby used his hand to try and plug an artery which was losing masses of blood.

A man was attacked by a shark at Yarrawonga Park in Lake Macquarie over the weekend. Picture: David Swift
A man was attacked by a shark at Yarrawonga Park in Lake Macquarie over the weekend. Picture: David Swift

A witness, who did not want to be named, said he was struck by Mr Burbury's selfless comments given the agony he was in.

"His arm was a mess," the man said.

"Both he and Julie were saying 'I'm glad it was me, I'm glad it was Rick, and not a child' … what kind of people would say that?"

Neighbours on the waterfront ran to tell others to get their children out of the water as police, ambulances and a rescue helicopter descended on Yarrawonga Park.

Mr Burbury was flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition, which had improved to stable on Monday following surgeries to remove the arm.

Despite temperatures over 30C on Monday, the waterfront was all-but deserted as residents confronted the reality they had always suspected - sharks were not, in fact, confined to the deep waters near Swansea Heads but roaming the shores well inside the lake.

Declan Villis, Ryan Brentnal and Jonathan Marsden at Yarrawonga Park. Picture: David Swift
Declan Villis, Ryan Brentnal and Jonathan Marsden at Yarrawonga Park. Picture: David Swift

One group of Lake Macquarie teens did return to the water at Yarrawonga Park - 19-year-old mates Ryan Brentnall, Jonathan Marsden and Declan Villis who had also been there just an hour before the attack on Saturday.

"I hope I'm not the chosen one," Mr Brentnall said as he backflipped off the Yarrawonga Park jetty on Monday.

The young men admit to being apprehensive about going back in the water but believe sharks must have been in the area for years prior.

"I got a text from my mum straight away (on Saturday)," Mr Marsden said.

"I've got a deadly phobia of sharks but I just put up with it because I like swimming."

The Department of Primary Industries confirmed in a statement on Monday "a NSW DPI shark biologist has confirmed the species involved was most likely a bull shark".

"NSW DPI is working with NSW Police to monitor the area and provide technical advice and resources as required," the statement said.

Originally published as Shark victim: 'I'm glad it was me and not a child'



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