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Shark attack: Lifeguard hailed as a hero in rescue attempt

Lifeguard Dan Lund, who'd once been bitten by a shark himself, paddled out to bring back surfer Stephen Schafer, the victim of a shark attack Wednesday.

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Stephen Schafer coming out of the water after kiteboard surfing in 2007. He did not survive a shark attack Wednesday, but the lifeguard who went to his rescue is being hailed as a hero.

Chris Shultz/Marketing Concepts/AP

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Lifeguard Dan Lund had no idea that the kite surfer bobbing a quarter-mile off a Florida beach Wednesday afternoon was surrounded by sharks and bleeding.

He and other lifeguards on Hutchinson Island’s Stuart Beach thought the man’s equipment had simply malfunctioned. So Lund decided to paddle a rescue surfboard out through heavy waves and thick chop to help the kite surfer back to shore.

“I get to him, I’m probably within 20 yards or so from him, and there’s just a lot of blood in the water,” Lund told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The kite surfer, 38-year-old Stephen Schafer, was still conscious, but struggling. He called out to the lifeguard: “I got hit. I got hit by a shark.” Sharks were still there, circling.

Lund did not hesitate. He grabbed Schafer and pulled him and the kite onto his 12-foot rescue board and headed for shore.

Although Shafer later died of his wounds, Lund is being hailed as a hero by fellow rescue workers.

Rescuer surrounded by sharks

“He got to Mr. Schafer, he reassured him, and then he had to hold him physically on the board,” said Martin County Marine Safety Captain Ray Szefinski. “The sharks all that time were swimming around them and Dan has to have his hand in the water just paddling with one hand.”

Captain Szefinski said that if lifeguards had known it was a shark attack, they would have called for a zodiac boat rescue and a jet ski. But that would have taken too long, he said.

“This was no little deal,” Szefinski said. “Dan Lund went probably over 500 yards out in the ocean in real rough conditions with sharks swimming all around – it is almost like a miracle that he didn’t get hit.”

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