Spearfisherman who famously saved the life of a young father as he was mauled by a monster shark fights for life with ‘catastrophic’ injuries after being attacked himself
- Hero who saved dad from attack is savaged by a bull shark on Great Barrier Reef
- Spearfishing with friend when shark bit his thigh causing ‘catastrophic bleeding’
- In critical but stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery on Sunday
- Took an hour to get to the boat ramp and had no pulse, paramedics revived
A spearfisherman who saved a father from a shark attack is fighting for his own life after being savagely mauled on a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Rick Bettua, 59, of Mission Beach, was spearfishing on Britomart Reef, off Hinchinbrook Island in Far North Queensland when he was attacked by a bull shark on Sunday just after noon.
The shark bit his upper thigh and Mr Bettua began bleeding profusely in the water.
Rick Bettua, 59, a former US Navy diver, was in critical but stable condition late on Sunday night after being bitten on the thigh by a bull shark and losing so much blood he lost his pulse
Britomart Reef (pictured) is a popular reef off Mission Beach and Hinchinbrook Island in Far North Queensland. Mr Bettua was spearfishing with his friend Peter Kocica when the two of them spotted a couple of large bull sharks. One of them attacked on the last dive of the day
Britomart Reef’s nearest boat ramp is about 140km north of Townsville
Mr Bettua is a former US Navy diver famous for helping save Queensland father Glenn Dickson when he was bitten by a shark at another remote reef in the area in 2017.
He and friend Peter Kocica dragged Mr Dickson to a boat and put a tourniquet around his bleeding leg, saving his life.
Mr Bettua had again been spearfishing with Peter Kocica on Sunday.
It was on the last dive of the day when the shark attacked.
Paramedics had to revive Mr Bettua on a boat ramp 140km north of Townsville before he could be safely flown to Townsville Hospital on Sunday
Mr Bettua (pictured in 2018) was spearfishing with friend Peter Kocica when he was attacked
Pictured: Paramedics take Mr Bettua into Townsville Hospital
Mr Kocica immediately swam to his bleeding friend and helped him to the boat.
He signalled a faster vessel for the one-hour journey to Dungeness boat ramp about 140km north of Townsville where Mr Bettua had no pulse.
He was revived by paramedics on the boat ramp just after 1pm before being flown to Townsville Hospital for emergency surgery.
Earlier in the day, Mr Bettua and Mr Kocica had seen two large bull sharks hanging around the northern end of the popular reef where they were fishing.
Rick Bettua pictured in September 2017 – the same year he saved the life of his friend, Glenn Dickson, who was also bitten on the leg by a shark at a nearby reef
Britomart Reef is north of Magnetic Island and Palm Island, and is close to Mission Beach
Glenn Dickson pictured with his family. In 2017 it was Rick Bettua and Peter Kocica who dragged him to the boat and put a tourniquet on his leg, saving his life
Mr Bettua (pictured in 2017) is a keen fisherman and an expert in the water
They had just gone for the same fish when the attack unfolded.
‘I’ve looked across and I’ve just seen this big bull shark flying over across (the coral) and out of the deep and he’s tried to (protect himself) and it grabbed on to his leg and taken a couple of bites I saw,’ Mr Kocica told the Courier Mail.
‘I grabbed him, blood was pouring out of his leg, and we swam back to the boat about 30m away.’
Mr Kocica put a tourniquet around his leg to stop the bleeding just as both he and Mr Bettua had done for their friend Glenn back in 2017.
Glenn Dickson lost his leg – but his life was saved.
Mr Bettua was in critical but stable condition late on Sunday night after undergoing emergency surgery at Townsville Hospital.
Lifeflight paramedic David Humphreys said the team had done their best to stabilise the patient before flying him in.
‘Obviously the concern was catastrophic bleeding which we did our best to arrest, get control of, but knowing the definitive care is surgery for this patient, we wanted to stabilise him as far as we could,’ he told 9News.