A swimmer narrowly escaped a grisly shark attack thanks to the heroic efforts of the first aid ingenuity of New York City lifeguards.
Tatyana Koltunyuk, 65, was enjoying a routine swim Monday evening, just 10 feet from shore, when the shark took a bite out of her left leg above the knee.
The Rockaway Beach lifeguards heard her cries for help and immediately rushed to her aid in the water.
Seeing the severity of her injuries and the profuse bleeding, they used a the rope attached to one of their red buoys to fashion a tourniquet and prevent her from bleeding to death.
Chief Lifeguard Jose Diaz praised his colleagues for their life-saving actions, “The lifeguards really saved her. Really,” he noted.
“We saw that she was bitten,” he recalled. “The blood was coming out a lot so they gave her a tourniquet with the buoy, which has a rope, and they tied it so she doesn’t bleed to death.”
“She lost a lot of blood,” Diaz continued. “The artery came right out. You could see the bones and everything. It was crazy,”
The terrifying incident resulted in Koltunyuk losing approximately 20 pounds of flesh, and marking the first shark attack at Rockaway Beach in 70 years.
Koltunyuk was transported to Jamaica Hospital in stable but critical condition as of Tuesday.
The exact type of shark responsible for the attack is still unknown, though teeth marks on her leg suggest it may have been a bull or thresher shark, but a great white attack has not been ruled out.
Shark researcher Gary Metzger, who hails from the South Fork Natural History Museum, told the New York Post that the shark could have been drawn to the area by hunting down schools of fish that cluster near the shore.
“The sharks follow the food. If there were large schools of menhaden close to the beach, it’s quite possible that the sharks were also there, feeding on them,” he remarked.
Fellow Florida shark researcher Dr. Gavin Naylor said that Koltunyuk’s choice to swim alone in the evening was not a good one.
“We advise people not to swim at dawn or dusk, largely because animals will move then, and predators will look for them and chase them down,” he explained.
Following the incident, the beach remains closed to swimmers while city authorities monitor the water for signs of the predator.