Suffolk doctor escapes shark in Australia after punching it on the nose
PUBLISHED: 14:26 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:26 17 November 2017
A Suffolk doctor punched a shark on the nose to escape its jaws while surfing off the Australian coast with friends.
Charlie Fry, 25, who grew up in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, suffered superficial puncture wounds on his right shoulder and upper arm after the shark attack on Monday afternoon off Avoca Beach, 60 miles north of Sydney.
Charlie, who has worked at the nearby Gosford Hospital for the past two months, said he had recently watched a video on YouTube in which Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning told of punching a great white shark to escape an attack unscathed during a surfing competition in South Africa in 2015.
Mum Helen Fry, who teaches geography at Thurston Community College, said it was a surreal experience to see her son at the centre of an international media storm.
She said: “I spoke to him about 9am our time on Monday morning and his first words were, ‘I’ve got a funny story to tell you, I’m ok but...’
“Once I heard he was ok, I didn’t feel too bad but later there was a moment of reflection when I realised just how incredibly lucky he had been.
“It was a bit surreal to see him all over the news, I have to admit.
“But he has always been the adventurous sort and he’ll have the scars to prove it. It’s a good story for him to tell for a few years.”
Charlie, who also attended school in Thurston, told Nine Network television in Australia: “So when it happened, I was like, ‘Just do what Mick did. Just punch it in the nose’. So Mick, if you’re watching or listening, I owe you a beer. Thank you very much.”
Charlie, who is spending a year in Australia, was surfing with three doctor friends when he was attacked.
He said: “I was out surfing and I got this massive thud on my right-hand side, it completely blindsided me.
“I thought it was a friend goofing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the water and breach its head.
“So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then managed to scramble back on my board, shout at my friends and luckily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in.”
The beach was closed by authorities for 24 hours following the attack.