Lisa Mondy was just your average twentysomething carefree spirit. She had worked as a zookeeper, as well as a wildlife tour guide in Australia. Her free time was spent enjoying water-sports and playing guitar. Lisa was working on the water nearly every day guiding parasailing, dolphin and whale watching tours; the ocean served as both her work and play.
But her life changed forever when she was grabbed by a Great White Shark while wake-boarding with friends in 2011. With its lower jaw around the right side of her head, and its upper jaw around the left side of her arm, the shark pulled Lisa underwater and everything went dark—making her tale of survival all the more unbelievable.
Lisa spoke with Unleashed and provided a candid, in-depth account of what exactly happened on that fateful day and how the experienced shaped her life.
This is part one of Lisa Mondy's candid interview. WARNING: Details and images may be a bit graphic for sensitive readers.
“It was the most glorious day, not a cloud in the sky. No wind and the water was crystal clear. It was our lunch break, and I was teaching a workmate, Rowan Cutbush, to wakeboard. We used my kiteboard, which only had foot straps and not boots, like a wakeboard. After a while, the boys said it was my turn. At first I said no, I had a bad feeling that day. I ended up getting in anyway, when do I ever say no to some fun?! I was having a great time, until I didn't land a jump and the board came off my feet. I spotted the board and started swimming to it. On about my third swim stroke, a Great White Shark, almost 13 feet long, sped straight up at me vertically from below.
It hit me hard, launching about three feet out of the water, as it's jaws closed around my head and arm. It took me underwater with it and the boys frantically raced the boat back around to me. I'm not sure how long it held me under for, but in hospital I kept holding my breath and making alarms go off because I wasn't getting enough oxygen, so it must have been long. The shark must have shaken me loose and thanks to my life jacket, I came back to the surface. At first I didn't know what had happened, I didn't see it coming and it happened so fast. I only remember flashes of it. The biggest thing was the impact. At first I thought it had to have been a boat that hit me, it was just so solid! I remember seeing a shape in front of my face, I assume as it was lunging at me, but I can't make much sense of the images in my head. I looked down to my arm to see how bad it was, but I couldn't see it. What had just been crystal clear water was now thick red with blood, and I couldn't see past the surface.
As the realization of what had happened came over me, there was a moment of absolute terror. Then came shock, confusion and disbelief. I waved my good arm out at the boat, but they had seen the whole thing and the boat was flying towards me at top speed. As they started getting closer I screamed out “shark." I realized the only way I could survive was to remain calm... So I told myself not to panic, not to look back at the shark that was continuing to pass by me, not to think about my legs dangling in the plume of my own blood. I told myself to focus on the boat and the boat alone, and getting back onto it. I blocked the rest out as best I could and started side stroking towards the approaching boat. Almost daily at work I would tell customers not to be concerned about sharks and that they didn't want to eat us. The irony of it played on my mind a little. I was thinking while I was in the water scared of a second attack, "hey come on guys, I'm on your side! Don't do this!”
As the boat reached me, I hoped they would throw me a rope, but expected nothing more than encouragement. I was shocked when Rowan dived into the water to save me. I remember thinking, ”you idiot, get out!" not wanting him to be bitten too. By the time he reached me, I could hardly swim. I was weak from blood loss, so I grabbed his arm and he pulled me to the boat. I'll never forget the look of terror on his face when he reached me. He saved my life and I'm glad to say he has been recognized with bravery awards.
Mark Green was driving the boat and he was clicking the gears and making commotion trying to scare the shark away. The two boys pulled me up onto the marlin board and I saw my arm limp and uncontrolled, fall back to the side of me. I dared not look, but from what I saw it was a mess. Mark got Rowan's shirt and shoved it up into my shoulder where the end of the artery was and Rowan held it there.
Mark started driving back to the marina and called another colleague to get an ambulance. Then the pain kicked in. I wreathed so hard that the boys had to swap places because Rowan couldn't hold me down. He drove back to the marina as fast as the boat would go. I was in and out of consciousness and in more pain than I knew was possible. The world was fading away and I thought it was over. I was flown by helicopter to hospital and taken straight to emergency surgery.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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