In early March of last year, Aaron Wallis of LJ Hooker Harrington grabbed his board and paddled out for a surf after a long day in the office. A surfer since he can remember, it wasn’t unusual for him to surf alone at the mid north coast town of Crowdy Head.
However, it wasn’t long before a few friends, including 49 year, father-of-two Dave Pearson, joined him on the waves.
“Dave was about 10-15 meters from me when I heard this loud crack,” Mr Wallis told Real Estate Business.
What would later be identified as a six-foot bull shark had launched through Mr Pearson, clamping down on his left arm.
The shark knocked him off his board and then disappeared underneath the injured surfer.
“Everything happened so fast, I couldn’t tell what it was or how big it was,” Mr Wallis said. “I remember being confused and of course scared, we had no idea where it was and if it would come back for another go.
“I asked Dave if it was a shark. He just stared at me blankly, he was in shock,” he said.
Despite his injuries Mr Pearson called out to the other surfers to stay away, warning them there was a shark nearby.
“I remember I stopped for half a second, I didn’t know what to do to,” Mr Wallis confessed.
With the knowledge that the shark could be circling just a few meters underneath the surface Mr Wallis paddled over to his friend, put him on his board and guided him into the beach where on-lookers took over.
Mr Pearson was flown to John Hunter Hospital and was treated for his injuries.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Mr Pearson said Mr Wallis’ actions had saved his life.
“The mental torment of leaving someone in need was just too great for him to leave me,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the actions of [Aaron] I was in major trouble. He saved my life.”
Mr Pearson has nominated Mr Wallis for the Outstanding Bravery medal in this year’s Pride of Australia Awards. But the 30-year-old agent will not accept he is a hero.
“It was scary at the time but we were very lucky, there were plenty of things that could have made a bad situation into a tragedy. We were lucky the shark didn’t come back for another swipe,” Mr Wallis said.
“Like I said it all just happened so quickly. I don’t know if I would do the same thing or react the same if it happened this afternoon.
“I didn’t get any time to think about the consequences I just acted, that’s not bravery. Bravery is driving in a fire engine and running into a burning house knowing the risks.”
A year on, both Mr Wallis and Mr Pearson are back out on the waves however Mr Wallis admits he is more aware of the possible dangers in the ocean.