ALONE on an isolated beach, a French tourist thought she might bleed out from a presumed shark attack before help arrived.
Laura Vidalled had been swimming alone at Clifton Beach on Monday night when her right leg was gashed open by a stingray's tail.
Hawke's Bay Today reports the 21-year-old said she hadn't been able to see anything under the water, and thought she had been attacked by a shark because she didn't know stingrays were around. Clamping her hand to her leg, she had made her way on to the beach.
"I started shouting for help," she said. "I was scared, I didn't understand what was happening. There was blood everywhere."
Alone at the end of Clifton Motor Camp, she said she worried she might lose too much blood before help arrived.
After hearing her cries for help, Hastings man Grant Kidd and his friend Ben Bath had jumped a retaining wall and were the first to reach Ms Vidalled.
Mr Kidd said when they got to Ms Vidalled she was covered "head to toe in blood", and seemed to be in shock.
He said: "It was pretty brutal.
"We knew it wasn't a shark because there was only one entry wound. I wasn't sure how big it [the wound] was but it was enough that we were all covered in blood."
After putting pressure on the wound the two men carried Ms Vidalled to the nearby home of Peter McIntyre.
When they arrived she was conscious but "writhing around", Mr McIntyre said.
"We put a tourniquet on and managed to stop the flow of blood," he said, "It was pumping out of her leg ... she was in absolute agony."
Mr McIntrye said he thought she was lucky the two men were there, and that she would not have been able to make it off the beach herself.
"If they hadn't been there I reckon she would have bled out on the beach."
Ms Vidalled was transported to Hawke's Bay Hospital, where her leg was given an ultrasound to make sure the stingray's barb was not inside. Ms Vidalled was back at the motor camp yesterday, with crutches, and medication for the pain.
Mr Kidd and Mr Bath were remaining humble about their role in the incident.
Mr Kidd said: "She was just a girl that needed help, it's what anyone would have done."
Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy said incidents like these happened about once or twice a year, and he knew of a few similar cases in Hawke's Bay over the years.
"It's not uncommon to see stingrays in shallow water, under the right conditions they will come in very close to shore."
Stingrays would lash out with their tail as a defence mechanism against bigger animals, or if someone stood on them.
Mr Duffy said swimmers should shuffle their feet, jump, and splash around when entering the water.
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