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Surfers explain how they helped save Lake Worth shark bite victim

Posted at 8:31 PM, Sep 25, 2017

A man is still recovering after a shark bit him while surfing at Lake Worth Beach.

The people credited with saving his life shared their story in an exclusive interview with WPTV.

RELATED: More shark stories

Jesse Cool has surfed Lake Worth beach his whole life.

“Probably a good 20 years," he said.

But Sunday, his experience with the ocean was put to the test.

“This was a first, I think for everybody up here," he said.

Cool and longtime friend, Andy Wilson, were surfing with a group around 2 p.m. near the pier when one of their own was attacked by a shark. Witnesses believed a hammerhead shark accidentally bit the man while it was pursuing a school of fish.

“I heard his yell, him screaming for help and that’s when I just jumped into action," said Wilson.

Cool and Wilson were the first to render aid before 911 emergency responders and lifeguards arrived on the scene. The men pulled the man -- whose identity has not been officially released -- from the waves and onto the dry land.

"I didn’t think it was that serious and then I saw all the blood in the water,” said Cool. “I immediately took my shirt off and tied up his arm just stop all the bleeding and then the lifeguards came up and took over."

Both Cool and Wilson have been commended by witnesses for their focus and bravery. While shark attacks are rare, Cool said it’s important to stay calm.

“It's my last name! What can I do," he joked. "It was an instinct, an instant reaction. There wasn’t really any time to think anything out. Just an instant reaction to help him out."

But Cool added that during high pressure situations, it can cause more harm if people start panicking.

"I think from all the commotion and everybody panicking -- it was making him think his injury was worse than it was, so it wasn’t helping the issue," Cool said.

Both surfers said it's mullet fish mating season, meaning schools of the baitfish are traveling through these waters with hungry sharks in close pursuit. That means swimmers and surfers need to be mindful.

“It comes with the territory," Wilson said. "If you’re in the bait ball, get your legs and hands up out of the water and wait for them to go away.”

Cool and Wilson said thankfully their surfing buddy -- part of a group of regular Lake Worth surfers -- will be able to join them again soon.

"He should be OK. I don’t think any major arteries were hit but will need some major recovery time," said Cool.