Miracle

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Few people will ever come face to face with a white pointer, fewer, will survive an attack. It's a miracle Zac Golebiowski is even alive, let alone up for a chat.Dad Les says "you wouldn't wish it on any parent, to get that phone call about a child"

Zac can you tell us how you are feeling? "Really tired." Zac isn't yet ready to look beneath the sheet, to face the shocking truth. an horrific encounter with a monster, which didn't take his life, but 'did' take his leg. Less than a week since their terrifying ordeal with a great white ... big brother Sam, and Zac's best buddy Joe, have returned to the beach, where Zac was attacked.

Joe, how does it make you feel to be back here? "Dunno, don't know what to feel, upset" Before this beach became a place of painful memories ... to three mates it was paradise, where all that mattered was catching the perfect wave. Joe says "the three of us were paddling out, and I just yelled to Sam, I just love this place"

The stunning Bay is a hidden gem ... tucked away on WA's Great Southern Coast. 800 km from Perth, locals say it's their best kept secret, the boys have been swimming here since they were babies, on this day, they were out for surf. Sam says "I was sitting out the back with Joe, and Zac me little brother he'd just caught one, I was pretty stoked to see him catch one" They'd only been in the water a matter of minutes, when the unthinkable happened. "From what I remember I've either heard Zac or turned around and heard Zac and yeah he's being attacked, you could tell he was being attacked because the water was red all around him"

By now, Sam and Joe could see the shark thrashing in the water ... Sam says "I remember yelling out NO, and started making my way over there towards him, paddling towards him" they made a split second decision to risk their own lives, to save Zac.Joe says "you almost don't care, the only thing your focused on his him, get him out of the water cause he's the one that's hurt" by the time they reached Zac, the shark was in a frenzy, all they could see was water and fins. Sam says "I told him I've got you, your gonna be alright, were gonna take you in" he knew Zac had been bitten, but had no idea how bad. Whilst I was swimming him in, I realised he'd lost his leg, and actually I remember saying to him, look make you've lost ya leg, were gonna get you in"

The sheer terror of the next few minutes is almost impossible to comprehend. Zac is 50 meters out, he's losing a massive amount of blood and the shark which just took his leg could still be circling, the boys have to paddle to the beach, roughly one lap of an Olympic swimming pool ... it must have felt like an eternity.

Sam says "the main thing was just getting to the beach, not just Zac, me myself you know, and making sure Joe was in as well" but the nightmare was far from over. Zac could bleed to death on the beach, as they dragged him to shore, a couple of holiday makers drove down to the water. Joe says "she grabbed this extension cord out of nowhere when we had him up in the car, and her and Sam held the end so she could tighten it" Somehow the strangers knew exactly what to do. As fate would have it, the woman's father had lost his leg in an accident twelve months ago. They raced Zac to the local caravan park to call for help."he was laying in the back of the car with one leg not real nice, and a big bite out of the other side" park owner Guy Royle told them to keep driving, he'd call an ambulance, to meet them along the way. "We pretty much told them to get going as soon as they can"

Sam says "it was a really long drive waiting for that ambulance looking up saying is this it? is this it?" The next hour was touch and go, but Zac's incredible 'will to live' never faltered ... or his courageous fight for life, which took a remarkable twist" Joe says "he just put his hand out and I held it and talked to him and said your gonna be alright man, your doing so well, he was even saying himself, I'm gonna be alright man"

But it was during that drive, that Zac a fifteen year old schoolboy made a decision which many will find truly amazing, so strong is Zac's religious conviction, he told his rescuers under no circumstances should he be given blood. As a Jehovah's witness, it is against his faith.... his strict instructions were written on a piece of paper, just in case he passed out. Les his dad says "he's got a faith he believes in, and he's strong as a young man" Zac's parents Les and Ann were home in South Australia when they got the call.

His mum Ann says "a lot of people worry about their kids on the road thinking oh one day the Police are going to come and tell us there's been a terrible car accident, but because my boys are in the water so much, I always used to think one day the police are going to come and tell me, that one of them has been taken by a shark" Her life long nightmare had come true. Having nine children who all love the water, Ann always feared it was only a matter of time. they made the mercy dash to Perth, where Zac was already in surgery.

Dr Adrian Brooks and his team worked on Zac for four hours. his right leg was stitched together above the knee. his left leg also needed major surgery, where the shark had ripped through his calf. Zac's parents are grateful the hospital respected their sons wishes, not to have a blood transfusion, "got all the right equipment into theatre and put on quiet a tight tornique on both legs to prevent any further blood loss before or during the operation"

As a parent, if you could take his pain would you? Les says "of course you would - wouldn't hesitate" The shark which savaged their son, has since slipped away, but there's no doubt what it was. The day after Zac was attacked, underwater cinematographer Dave Riggs filmed this seal, found at the same beach with a massive shark bite, the same jaws he believes latched onto Zac. Dave Riggs says "the shark had taken the seal basically, and the seal has managed to escape it, crawled up onto the beach, the shark then began patrolling up and down the beach and unfortunately ran into Zac" A local who tracks white pointers for a living, Dave reckons Zac was in the wrong place at the wrong time. "It's just a little swimming hole, it's really protected, it always has been, no ones ever seen a shark there before"

While Sam and Joe have take their first steps in the healing process, for Zac the road to recovery is much longer, Dr Adrian Brooks says "with his prosthetic leg we would hope that he should be able to walk run and do everything as he would normally do" It could be a couple of months before Zac is up and about, until then, the next time Sam and Joe wade in this water, will be with Zac by their side. Joe says "I think he's a bit of a hero myself to be able to stick through something like that, he's still going" Sam says "he's a strong little kid hey, for sure. do you feel proud? Oh yeah for sure, proud as of my little brother for sure, yep for sure ...."

For further details you can contact the family by email

Rg294@hotmail.com

Or if you wish to make a donation their banking details are as follow

The Commonwealth Bank, Andrew Street Esperance.

BSB: 066511 Account Number: 10183580

Account Name: Zachary Charles Golebiowski