An Australian man received a bravery award Monday for pulling a 12-foot great white shark off a victim amidst a cloud of blood.
Trevor Burns, 50, earned the Star of Courage for rescuing Elyse Frankcom, 19, off the southwestern coastal town of Rockingham, according to the Associated Press. In 2010, Frankcom was a guide showing a group of tourist snorkelers dolphins when a great white shark locked her thighs between its jaws.
Burns, one of the tourists, saw Frankcom within arm’s reach but lost sight of her in a cloud of blood. He reached for the shark’s tail instead and held onto it for several seconds before the shark released Frankcom and swam away.
Other tourists had already fled when Frankcom began to sink. Burns’s family had safely made it to the nearby boat and feared that Burns had been the target of the shark’s attack. The Brisbane Times reports that Burns’s family watched from the top deck of the boat in horror as Burns’s body was thrashed about.
Burns, unharmed, swam Frankcom up to the boat. She was airlifted to the hospital where she underwent surgery and received over 200 stitches to her legs. She has since recovered from the attack and remains in contact with Burns, whom she returned to the ocean with less than six months later.
Burns is a native from the city of Brisbane on the other side of the country, but he had started working in the nearby city of Perth as a data analyst. He was on a vacation with his family at the time of the shark attack.
The Star of Courage is a bravery decoration awarded to Australian civilians for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril. The award, created in 1975, is the second highest award that Australia offers civilians for bravery. The highest award is Australia’s Cross of Valor.
An additional 150 people alongside Burns earned bravery awards Monday, but none received either the Star of Courage or the Cross of Valor.
While most of Australia‘s population resides along its eastern shore, Rickingham lies on the west coast. The city has a population of over 100,000, significantly less than the nearby city of Perth, the capital of Western Australia and the country’s fourth largest city. Brisbane, on Australia’s east coast, is the country’s third most populous city.
Australia has suffered from the most shark attack deaths in the world, emphasizing why Burns’s heroism was not taken lightly and why he deserved a bravery award for rescuing a young woman from a great white shark.
[Featured image via ShutterStock]