A surfer on Thursday survived the attack of a great white shark that destroyed his surfboard and shattered his nerves.
Bobby Gumm was 200 yards off the beach at South Beach State Park with four companions when he was thrown into the air by a shark estimated to be 16 to 20 feet in length. Fellow surfer Ron Clifford who was nearby described the unnerving scene.
“I thought I heard Bobby yell for help and I turned to look,” said Clifford, 57, a retired civil engineer from Huntington Beach, Calif., who retired to Waldport for the surfing. “The water was roiling like piranhas were attacking, and suddenly he and his board were lifted ten feet into the air.”
According to Clifford, Gumm had just positioned himself for a wave and was sitting on his surfboard “when he felt a bump on his leg and saw it was a shark — that’s when he yelled for help.”
Clifford said the surfers, including Gumm, Clifford and his wife, Carol, Dan Anderson and Marcus Muth, paddled shoreward as fast as they could. After making sure that Gumm was uninjured, Clifford ran down the beach and yelled to eight other surfers to leave the water.
“Bobby tried to be calm once he was ashore,” recalled Carol Clifford. “He was very thankful. Before we went into the water we prayed for a good surf day. The Lord heard his cries and delivered him from the shark.”
Gumm was unavailable at deadline, but his wife, Tess, reported that he was upset by the event and unable to talk to reporters. She said his children heard about the event at school and were told he had been killed.
“We just need some family time together,” she said.
The event shocked other water sports enthusiasts, including scuba diver Nathan Armstrong who was spearfishing off the jetty shortly after the attack.
“I was just off the fingers drift-diving, got out of the water and heard there was a shark attack,” he said. “Now I’m debating whether to go back in. I kept thinking there was something behind me, watching me. I had this eerie feeling under water all the time.”
Surfer Paul Primus of Boise, Idaho, was on his honeymoon when he slipped into the water just south of the jetty, unaware that an attack had occurred at the same spot just hours before. He failed to notice that a sign warning of a shark sighting had been posted amid a cluster of other signs at the entrance to the jetty.
“Now that I know, I’m a little scared,” he said as his bride began packing their car.
The attack won’t deter other surfers, however. Ron Clifford said he would likely get back into the water Friday.
“Maybe not South Beach,” he said, “but it won’t stop me from surfing. I’ve done it all my life. I just don’t ever want to see anything like this again, ever.”
By Rick Beasley
For the News Times
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