An underwater fisherman who saved a father from a shark attack is fighting for his own life after being savagely maimed in a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Rick Bettua, 59, of Mission Beach, was fishing underwater on Britomart Reef off Hinchinbrook Island in far north Queensland when he was attacked by a bull shark just after noon on Sunday.
The shark bit his upper thigh and Mr. Bettua began to bleed profusely in the water.
Rick Bettua, 59, a former US Navy diver, was in critical but stable condition Sunday night after being bitten in 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 fishing underwater with his friend Peter Kocica when the two spotted two large bull sharks. One of them attacked on the last dive of the day
The nearest Britomart Reef boat launch is approximately 140 km north of Townsville
Mr Bettua is a former United States Navy diver famous for helping save Queensland’s father Glenn Dickson when he was bitten by a shark on another remote reef in the area in 2017.
He and his friend Peter Kocica dragged Mr. Dickson onto a boat and placed a tourniquet around his bleeding leg, saving his life.
Mr Bettua had fished underwater again with Peter Kocica on Sunday.
It was on the last dive of the day that the shark attacked.
Paramedics had to revive Mr Bettua on a boat launch 140 km north of Townsville before he could be safely transported to Townsville hospital on Sunday.
Mr Bettua (pictured in 2018) was fishing underwater with his friend Peter Kocica when he was attacked
Pictured: Paramedics take Mr Bettua to Townsville Hospital
Mr. Kocica immediately swam over to his bleeding friend and helped him get on the boat.
He reported a faster vessel for the hour-long trip to the Dungeness boat launch, about 140 km north of Townsville, where Mr. Bettua had no pulse.
He was resuscitated by paramedics on the boat launch just after 1 p.m. before being airlifted to Townsville Hospital for emergency surgery.
Earlier today, Mr. Bettua and Mr. Kocica had seen two large bull sharks hanging from 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 in the leg by a shark on 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, Rick Bettua and Peter Kocica dragged him to the boat and put a tourniquet on his leg, saving his life.
Mr. Bettua (pictured in 2017) is an avid fisherman and water expert
They had just caught the same fish when the attack took place.
“I looked the other way and I just saw this big bull shark fly over (the coral) and come out of the depths and he tried to (protect himself) and he grabbed his leg and took some bites. seen, ”Mr Kocica told the Courier Mail.
“I grabbed him, blood was flowing from his leg, and we swam to the boat about 30 yards. “
Mr Kocica put a tourniquet around his leg to stop the bleeding, just like he and Mr Bettua did for their friend Glenn in 2017.
Glenn Dickson lost his leg – but his life was saved.
Mr Bettua was in critical but stable condition late Sunday night after undergoing emergency surgery at Townsville Hospital.
Lifeflight paramedic David Humphreys said the team did their best to stabilize the patient before they were flown.
“Obviously the problem was a catastrophic bleeding which we did our best to stop and control, but knowing that final care is surgery for this patient, we wanted to stabilize him as much as possible,” he said. he told 9News.