Sydney Harbour shark attack: Hero vet reveals the ‘strange coincidence’ that saved Elizabeth Bay shark attack victim’s life
A heroic vet has revealed the ‘freak coincidence’ that allowed her to save the life of a young woman maimed by a shark in Sydney Harbour.
Fiona Crago and her wife Georgia, who live in a flat overlooking a private wharf in Elizabeth Bay, rushed out of their flat at around 7.30pm after hearing repeated screams of ‘shark attack!’ heard
Quick thinking Ms. Crago, a former lawyer and TV producer who retrained as a veterinarian about a decade ago, grabbed two pressure bandages that her wife had bought just that day for another purpose.
The couple discovered a scene of horror when their neighbor Lauren O’Neill, 29, was lying on the private pier, suffering massive blood loss after a bull shark bit her right leg.
“She was badly bruised on her right leg and she lost a lot of blood,” Ms Crago told Channel 10.
“Neighbors have already started to give her first aid. We had quite a few people who were so helpful.
‘People were throwing towels and blankets down to keep her warm, but I just focused on what I had to do, which was to stop the blood flow and connect the leg as best as I could with what I had and just stabilize it. And then put a tourniquet on.’
Ms Crago, whose actions may have saved the victim’s life, said she usually carried bandages because of her job but had not had the usual amount on hand in recent days as she had recently changed cars.
Hero vet Fiona Crago (pictured above) applied a tourniquet to the leg of Lauren O’Neill (below), 29, before emergency services arrived at the scene on Monday evening
“But as a strange coincidence, my wife actually went up the road and bought two new compression bandages yesterday for another purpose, so I knew exactly where they were and just grabbed them, so that was quite lucky,” she said .
Her wife, Georgia, interviewed Monday night in the aftermath of the attack, said the victim suffered a broken leg.
“If she had been bitten (further) out there, she wouldn’t have survived,” Georgia said.
A friend of the couple said Ms O’Neill owed them her life.
“Fiona knew what she was doing tonight if it wasn’t for her and her wife Georgia the poor victim would have died,” the friend told USA Online Post Australia.
‘I’m so proud of them, they deserve an award. That girl was lucky to have them home tonight.’
Ms O’Neill was taken by ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital where she is in a stable condition. She is expected to undergo surgery today.
Elizabeth Bay’s Michael Porter, who rang triple zero, also praised Ms Crago.
“She was an absolute hero … and I think she saved her life,” he told the Today Show.
“She had wraps and tourniquets and just went straight into emergency mode, and we were all just so together as a team there.”
Emergency services rushed to Elizabeth Bay at 7.45pm on Monday to find Ms O’Neill with a severe bite to her leg and ‘massive blood loss’. A bloodstained boardwalk was pictured at the scene
One resident said there was ‘blood everywhere’ (pic: Ms O’Neill on site)
Ms Crago with her wife Georgia
Mr Porter said Ms O’Neill had been swimming outside a ‘harbour pool’ and ‘swimming around the boats’.
‘Her leg was kind of dragging behind her, and the water behind her was completely red with blood.
He added that despite being in a ‘complete state of shock’ from the trauma of the attack, Ms O’Neill was ‘very lucid’.
“People were holding her hand and helping her and she was extremely brave the whole time,” he said.
One local resident is seen swimming near the jetty where Ms O’Neill was attacked
‘She was bleeding heavily. Her injuries are serious,’ a NSW Ambulance spokesperson told USA Online Post Australia on Monday evening.
Ms O’Neill studied science at the University of Sydney and works for the NSW Government in the Department of Climate Change.
She volunteered with a range of charities and organizations from 2012, when she was 15.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms O’Neill has given her time to the SES, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Pink Ribbon Day, Daffodil Day and Spinal Cord Injury Australia.
She served meals to the homeless, helped create a map of wheelchair-accessible public restrooms, and walked foster dogs.