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Long Island surfer fights off shark by punching it and bolting


A Long Island surfer fought off a shark that chomped down on his leg by punching it and “paddling like hell” to shore, according to a report.

Shawn Donnelly, 41, of Mastic Beach — one of five people attacked by sharks on Long Island in the past two weeks — was lying on his surfboard at 7:30 a.m. near Smith Point County Park in Shirley when the man-eater sunk its teeth into his left calf, he told Newsday.

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe what just happened,” said Donnelly, an attorney who surfs before work. “Every thought in my head was, ‘Paddle into shore.’”

Donnelly said the impact of the bite sent him plunging into the 7-foot-deep water roughly 40 feet from shore — where he could see the possible sand tiger shark’s spotted dorsal fin. 

“He came under me on my right. The water was sandy. I couldn’t even see my board,” Donnelly said.

Long Island surfer Shawn Donnelly said he was able to survive a shark attack at Smith Point County Park in Shirley by punching it and "paddling like hell" back to shore.
Surfer Shawn Donnelly said he was able to survive the attack at Smith Point County Park by punching the shark and “paddling like hell.”
Dennis A. Clark for NY Post

He punched the predator and scrambled back on to his board, with the 5-foot shark lurking in the murky water below him.

He fled for his life, then caught a well-timed wave to the coastline.

“I … paddled like hell. After a couple of strokes, a wave broke behind me and pushed me to shore,” he said. 

Donnelly was bit in the left calf and plunged into the water about 40 feet from the shore.
Donnelly was bit in the left calf and plunged into the water about 40 feet from the shore.
Dennis A. Clark for NY Post

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe what just happened.’”

Once out of the water, Donnelly saw blood dripping from a 2-inch gash on his leg.

“I did a quick check. I thought maybe he didn’t get me. Then I saw the blood running down my leg and one clear bite mark,” Donnelly told the outlet.

Donnelly was able to see what was possibly a sand tiger shark in the water underneath him during the attack.
Donnelly was able to see what thinks was a sand tiger shark in the water underneath him.
Edmund J Coppa
Donnelly is one of five people attacked by sharks on Long Island in the past two weeks.
Donnelly is one of five people attacked by sharks on Long Island in the past two weeks.

He walked to a nearby campground check-in booth and told a park ranger he’d been bit by a shark. He was then taken to Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, where his injury was treated.

Donnelly was the second of three victims — including a tourist from Arizona and a local lifeguard — who were attacked by sharks in Long Island waters in recent days.

On Wednesday evening, a 49-year-old man from Arizona was standing in waist-deep water on Fire Island’s Seaview Beach when a shark bit him from behind on the buttocks and left wrist, Suffolk County police said.

Lifeguard Zach Gallo was also bitten by a shark in near Smith Point County Park in Shirley on July 3, 2022.
Lifeguard Zach Gallo was also bitten by a shark in near Smith Point County Park in Shirley on July 3, 2022.
Dennis A. Clark

On July 3, lifeguard Zach Gallo was also chomped in the chest and hand by a shark near Smith Point County Park in Shirley. Four days later, another lifeguard also suffered a shark bite off of Ocean Beach on Fire Island, according to according to ABC News.

On June 30, a 37-year-old swimmer was also bitten on his right foot near Jones Beach.

Donnelly told Newsday he was aware of the recent attacks but assumed he’d be fine.

“It was a calculated risk that I got wrong,” he said.



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