As he receives a commendation, a New Zealand police officer has detailed an astonishing rescue during which he shot an aggressive great white shark in a bid to retrieve the body of a swimmer it had killed.
Constable Rob Bailey, of Kumeu, was the first policeman to arrive at the scene of the shark attack when it transpired in February 2013. As the Inquisitr previously reported, swimmer Adam Strange had been struck by an aggressive great white at Muriwai Beach, which is located along the western edge of New Zealand’s North Island. The encounter would prove fatal to Strange, and Bailey was charged with driving off the shark, which wouldn’t release its victim.
“Normally in situations where there is a drowning or death the lifesavers go out to the body, get in the water and bring it back in, then police deal with it,” Bailey explained. “When I got there that day the shark was so aggressive the lifeguards couldn’t recover the body, so I had to go out and help.”
— Michelle Jewell (@ExpatScientist) April 20, 2015
Grabbing a bushmaster rifle and radio, Bailey made the decision to confront the white shark from an inflatable boat, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Though several lifeguards were already in the water, they couldn’t approach the body, as the white shark wasn’t frightened off by normal means.
“Once I got there it became really clear the shark was very large and very aggressive and it hadn’t been scared off by the boat motors, or the police Eagle and Westpac helicopters. Normally the noise and pressure on the water from helicopters would scare a shark away – but it wasn’t going.”
Bailey’s first few shots at the shark had no impact, as the predator remained underneath the waves. The rounds disintegrated on impact, the officer recalled, barely inconveniencing the great white. Moments later, however, the shark broke the surface, and Bailey managed to score several hits along its back, trauma that was strong enough to cause the shark to release Strange and flee.
— Shark Attack News (@SharkNewsToday) April 18, 2015
As the Rodney Times notes, Bailey received an award on Wednesday for his actions during the shark attack. Despite the commendation, however, he noted that the lifeguards who were on the scene knew Strange personally and praised them for their “courageous” actions. Bailey said that he still thinks about Strange when he drives to Muriwai, calling the great white shark attack the “biggest, most gruesome thing” he has ever seen while on the force.
[Image via the Sydney Morning Herald]