A Sydney surfer narrowly escaped a great white shark after it destroyed his board. He was taken to the hospital after the shark ripped into his hip and tossed him into the air Sunday on a beach near the Australian east coast.

Locals referred to the 35-year-old surfer as "the luckiest man on Earth" after the shark attacked him during a routine surf session. He escaped by the skin of his teeth.

Byron Bay local Abe McGrath was surfing Iluka Beach on the north coast of New South Wales state Sunday when an 11-foot shark attacked his board from beneath, a police report said.

"As a result of the impact, the board has snapped. The injured victim has gone into the air and then re-entered the water," the statement said.

"He has told police the shark began to circle and then turned away," police told the Associated Press Sunday.

McGrath secured the other half of his surf board and headed to the shore, according to police. A friend transported him to local Ballina Hospital. Officials then airlifted McGrath to Lismore Hospital for extensive treatment where hospital officials discharged him Sunday night.



The shark ripped a hole in McGrath's wetsuit and left a giant wound on his right hip. His friend and fellow surfer, Bryce Cameron, 34, was on the beach when the incident occurred. If McGrath had been squatting on the board instead of lying across it when the shark attacked, it would have taken his leg clean off, Cameron told Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"He was laying on his board and he got attacked from below really aggressively, the force of the attack snapped his board," Cameron told the Telegraph. He added that the shark got most of the board in its mouth instead of McGrath's body. 

"He is pretty much the luckiest man on earth right now. He was lying on his board, but if he had been sitting on it he would have lost a leg," Cameron said.

"He got a good look at it," Cameron said. "He said it was a 3.5m white pointer. In the big scheme of things that is a juvenile but it is still big enough to kill."

Elijah "Hobbit" Colbey was the only other surfer in the water when the shark attack occurred. Colbey told the Telegraph that a sizable wave blew past the two when he saw McGrath wading in the ocean.

"We were 50m apart and it was just me and him out there," he said. "A good wave rolled past, we were both watching it, and then I looked back and saw Abe skimming across the water splashing."

Colby claimed McGrath called out for help. Colby swam over to McGrath and guided him back to shore where they traveled to a nearby hospital where doctors assessed his injuries. Officials closed the beach and nearby Main and Bluff beaches as a precaution.

"He needed a few stitches and to have a bit of an x-ray for his hip," Colbey said.

 

The memories, 12 months ago sneaking out for lunch time pits #fbf #mentawai #boystrip #crabpaddy

A post shared by Bryce Cameron (@brickson__) on