The brave man did everything that was in his power to save the life of his wife, with whom he has a 3-year-old child.
It is not every day that someone has to test themselves against the forces of nature, especially to save a loved one. Humans can be incredible in the face of crisis and can go to great lengths to save the lives of those they love. Whether they are taking on a creature of the wild or a manmade problem, natural instincts kick in during times of trouble.
On August 15, a man's instincts kicked in when he saw his wife in trouble while they were surfing on the beach. The couple had been in the water for a brief time before they faced one of the wildest creatures in the marine world, a shark. The creature was a juvenile great white around about 6.5 to 9.8 feet long, as per CNN. Chantelle Doyle, 35, was surfing with her husband Mark Rapley at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, when she was attacked at about 9.30 am, as per Daily Mail.
The great white shark latched on to her right calf at first and she went down. "I knew she was going to be in trouble... I just started paddling over and you react," Rapley said. "When you see the mother of your child, your support and everything that's who you are - you just react, you just think 'get off that calf, get off.'"
The calf bit into her thigh, and seeing his wife being attacked, Mark was spurred into action. He first paddled to her where her surfboard was and then lept on to the surfboard to get a better angle at hitting the shark. He punched the shark until he let go of his wife, who was able to get on to the board by herself. "You're not thinking 'punch' your body just reacts... you start punching, you start thinking where to punch, I'll attack the eye," he said. The couple is parents to a 3-year-old boy.
Mark is being hailed as a hero across Australia and across the world. However, he doesn't think so of himself. Chantelle knew she had sustained some serious injuries but was "amazing" and kept herself together. Mark also added that there were other surfers who came to their aide soon and they too were the heroes.
"Two guys paddled behind me straight toward her, and that's not their wife. I don't like that (hero) title but I would love it bandied around with the collection of people who did an amazing job to keep her alive - and she's alive," he said.
There were many witnesses to the incident and one of them, surfer Peter Lobb said that he heard a scream from Chantelle, who had been sitting on her board in shallow water. Another witness Jed Toohey described the scene as "unbelievable". He said that Mark pulled his partner to a board before punching the shark as it was just not letting go and could have dragged her out to sea. "He saved her life...He was really incredible," he said, as quoted by Daily Mail.
Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce also commended Mark for his brave act. "This fella paddled over and jumped off his board on to the shark and hit it to get it to release her and then assisted her back into the beach," he said, as per BBC. "Pretty full on, really heroic."
Peter said that a group of people and another woman on the beach applied a tourniquet on Chantelle's leg to try and stop the bleeding from a gash on her calf and her thigh. "Chantelle kept saying, 'I'm okay'. She was so calm and relaxed. But then her leg started to get numb," he said.
Soon emergency services also reached the spot. According to an NSW Police statement, "NSW Ambulance paramedics treated her at the scene for leg injuries before transferring her to Port Macquarie Hospital in a stable condition. She was later airlifted to John Hunter Hospital where she will undergo surgery."
Another witness at the scene said that the shark swam up and down the beach after attacking Chantelle. It leaped out of the water with the victim's surfboard in its mouth, according to Daily Mail.