Shark attack victim survives by ripping out the shark’s eyeballs
08/05/2017 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

Single mother-of-three, Leeanne Ericson, survived a shark attack by gouging out the animal’s eyes until it let her go. The attack left Ericson in critical condition, with a massive piece of her right thigh missing. She was placed in a medically-induced coma but has since recovered and stabilized.

Despite the generally good prognosis given by her doctors, Ericson would still need several surgeries in order to gain full mobility.  Her mother, Christine McKnerney, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her daughter’s growing hospital bills. The campaign has already generated $126,222 of its intended goal of $200,000.

The 35-year-old mom was vacationing with her family and friends at the San Onofre Beach in the northern San Diego County in California. She was paddling out into the ocean to where her boyfriend, Dusty Phillips was surfing. As she was swimming, she felt something bite her leg and pull her down.

Phillips remembered shooing Ericson away from his board to catch a new set of waves. “I absolutely regret that,” he said in an exclusive interview with Surfline. “As I was paddling, I heard the scream. It was a piercing scream I’d never heard. And it disappeared, mid-scream. I turned around as quick as I could and there wasn’t even a ripple. Where the f*** did she go?

What Philipps couldn’t see was that a nine to 11-foot great white shark had taken hold of Ericson and was pulling her deeper into the water. Ericson recalled that she began to feel her brain shut down as she struggled against the tremendous pressure. Instinctively, she fought back, pushing and clawing her way from the shark. In desperation, her fingers found the eye sockets of the great white and she began digging against it. After what seemed like hours of incessant scraping, the shark let go.


Meanwhile, Philipps was trying to find Ericson. He saw the shark thrashing and swam straight to it without giving much thought. “I’m going to dance with this thing, too. It looked like a feeding frenzy,” he stated.

However, Philipps stopped mid-course when he saw that Ericson was nowhere near the shark. Apparently, the animal had swum in the opposite direction. Frantic, Philipps began his search again and finally saw Ericson floating almost peacefully amidst the waves. He pulled her onto his board when he finally noticed her leg. The wound started from her hip and ended at her knee, with remnants of flesh remaining at the side. Philipps had lost a great deal of blood and was not breathing. Medical doctors later said that Philipps’ lungs were inundated with water and pieces of her own flesh which she accidentally inhaled. Her condition is known as “dry drowning”, which is a form of non-fatal respiratory impairment.

Philipps and Ericson were met by a team of responders who tied a tourniquet to the wound. It took a desperate 15 minutes from the beach to reach the parking lot where EMTs were waiting. Ericson was stripped off of her wetsuit and placed in a medically-induced coma.

Sharks are losing prey

This is but one of the recent incidents of shark attacks happening along the Californian coastline. Biologists and sea experts say that this is indicative of an ever-reducing number of prey for big marine animals. They believe that Ericson’s attack was a case of mistaken identity. (Related: Man-made ocean pollution has severely affected the immune systems of wild dolphins, researchers claim)

Philipps explains: “It was an attack bite. [The shark] was hunting [a] sea lion in the water with us. And in the murky water, the shark wasn’t able to identify between surfer or sea lion. It wasn’t a test bite. It wasn’t out of curiosity. This was an attack bite to kill.”

With water pollution becoming a very real threat to the ecosystem, experts say that bigger marine animals (such as sharks) are forced to swim in areas they would not normally go, even where it would take them into close proximity to humans.

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