A 62-year-old swimmer who was attacked by a shark in Monterey Bay earlier this week said he's lucky to be alive after being saved by good Samaritans, first responders and trauma surgeons.
Steve Bruemmer, a Monterey resident and triathlete who has been swimming in the bay one to two times a week for the past 10 years, was attacked Wednesday morning off Lover's Point Beach in Pacific Grove, which is located just north of the city of Monterey.
"The shark bite was unlucky. But after that, I have just had so much good luck," Bruemmer said in a statement released Thursday by the hospital where he was treated.
After being in the jaws of the shark, Bruemmer managed to call for help. Thanks to calm conditions out on the water, his cry was heard. Two standup paddleboarders – a nurse and a police officer – and a surfer teaching a safety class on the beach rushed to Bruemmer's aid.
The three rescuers placed a bleeding Bruemmer on a surfboard and paddled to shore. Once on the sand, the rescuers and several bystanders, including a nurse and a doctor who happened to be on the beach, applied tourniquets and helped Bruemmer to the ambulance.
"I remember I was lying in the ambulance, and I thought, 'my lungs are good. I can breathe,'" Bruemmer stated. "So I didn't know if I was going to bleed to death, but my lungs were good. And it seemed really lucky that the shark got me in a spot that seemed survivable. I was in the ambulance, thinking I don't know if I was going to survive, but at least I could breathe. Then I don't remember anything for a while."
Bruemmer was rushed to the trauma center at Natividad Medical Center in nearby Salinas. Two surgeons, Dr. Nicholas Rottler and Dr. Kuong Ngann, spent about two hours working on him.
"He was fortunate with his injuries that there was no damage to any major arteries, bones or organs," Rottler stated.
Rottler said Bruemmer lost several liters of blood and needed a transfusion of about 30 units (pints).
"The fact that Natividad has a Trauma Center was a lifesaver," Bruemmer stated. "They said I lost a tremendous amount of blood. Without all those things going right; If it had been a choppy day, then they wouldn't have heard me on the Monterey Rec Trail. So yeah, I'm lucky. Without all those things going right, I could have bled out."
As of Thursday, Bruemmer was listed in fair condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.
"Steve's doing remarkably well," his wife, Dr. Brita Bruemmer, stated. "Thanks to the good Samaritans, the first responders and the fabulous trauma team at Natividad Medical Center, he's here with us now."