Priest says grace of God helped him save shark attack victim

A Catholic priest is crediting the grace of God for helping him when a great white shark attacked a fellow surfer.

Fr. Liam Ryan was surfing in Western Australia when he noticed a distressed fellow surfer (Phil Mummert).

“I saw him off his board, looking really lost and there was half a board floating there,” Ryan, says.

“And then we saw this huge breach. The [great white] shark rolled onto him… and then went back under.”

Mummert and witnesses say Mummert used half his board to try and beat the shark away, and pummeled the shark’s head with his bare hands.

Ryan says the shark, which was several metres long, was “big enough to make grown men cry.”

“I started screaming ‘help him, help him.’”

Fortunately Ryan’s calls for help were heard by another nearby surfer, who was able to get Mummert onto his longboard, which he and Ryan then paddled to shore.

Mummert, who was “bleeding profusely” having sustained deep shark bites in his upper leg, was airlifted to the hospital.

It was then Ryan took a “quiet moment of solitude in the sand dunes.”

“I had a little bit of a cry, and just blessed the Lord.”

Mummert’s partner credits Ryan for saving Mummert’s life.

“Not only did he risk his own life to help save Phil’s, he then sprinted all the way to the end of the beach to tell me what happened and got everyone else out of the water,” she says.

“I honestly don’t know how a person can see a total stranger getting attacked by a four metre great white shark and swim towards to save him so we are beyond grateful to everyone that helped save Phil’s life.”

Ryan has his own answer to that puzzle.

“There’s something deep inside you that wants to help.”

“Christianity is built on that principle of someone giving their life for you.”

“You come face to face with what would be one of the greatest fears for a lot of people, a lot of surfers… but what gives you strength in that moment is the grace of God,” he said.

Ryan was ordained in August 2019 after having attended the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Perth.


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