TODAY   |  February 05, 2010

Lifeguard feared shark feeding frenzy

Lifeguard Dan Lund tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer how he jumped into shark-infested waters in an attempt to save kite surfer Steve Schafer off the coast of Florida.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> much. we're joined now by the lifeguard who tried to save stephen's life, dan lunde. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> i want to talk about -- you're paddling out on your long board. at the moment you got in to head out to stephen schafer, did you have any idea this was shark-related?

>> no, i did not. we had noticed he had gone down and he wasn't able to get the kite back up. he was kind of draped over it, and it could have been anything from equipment malfunction to maybe he had some sort of, you know, injury as far as maybe a leg or arm or something of that nature. it wasn't until i finally got to him that, you know, realized, you know, with the amount of blood in the water, and he told me that he had been, you know, bitten, that this is what's going on, so --

>> i know, dan , that you're under some legal constraints. you can't talk specifically about the nature of his injuries, but would it be fair to say that when you did see him and you did get to him and cradle him on that kite, you understood these were life-threatening injuries?

>> yes, sir. i noticed the extent of it and i knew it was a pretty serious situation, yes.

>> and then it's hard to imagine the rough seas, he's on the kite, you're on your board. what was it like to try to paddle back to shore? we're talking a quarter of a mile.

>> well, that day there was a strong northeast wind with a drift that was moving from north to south, so it kind of utilized the wind and the drift and some of the waves to kind of push us along with the kite, him in the kite, and basically, i cradled his head in my arm, and using one arm to paddle. so, i had to use, you know, as much help as we could get to kind of move in, and then as we got near shore to, you know, to use some of the surf itself to try to get us closer and closer to the beach.

>> but here you've got a guy who's badly injured. there's a lot of blood in the water, and you yourself saw these sharks swimming underneath. were you worried at all that those sharks could go into a frenzy and attack the two of you?

>> yes. that's kind of the reason why i kind of kept him in the kite itself, kind of cradled in the kite. it kind of offered at least somewhat protection, because it made us much bigger in the water than if i had tried to just, you know, tried to get him out of the kite. i figured this was the best way to kind of at least offer us some protection. i had the board butted up against the kite and i knew that, yeah, there is a possibility this could turn into a frenzy because of the amount of blood that was in the water.

>> and as we mentioned before, you yourself someone who had been bitten by a shark some 20 years or so ago. so, that has to be in your mind at the time. i know, dan , that this did not end the way you had hoped it would end. unfortunately, mr. schafer did pass away from those bites. does it give you any consolation to know that at least in his final minutes he knew he was not alone out there?

>> yes. again, every time we, you know, our guys, we go on a rescue, we do hope, we do strive to make the best possible outcome, and i was, you know, i'm just glad i was able to at least be there with him, you know, and just to talk to him.

>> i know it's a hard thing for you, but you did an amazing job and we thank you for joining us this morning, dan lund .

>> thank you.

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