Lifeguard grabs shark with hands, pulls it to deeper water

Brevard lifeguard grabs shark with hands, pulls it to deeper water

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A lifeguard springs into action and drags a shark away from people on the beach.

Brevard County Ocean Rescue lifeguard Zach Cooney said it was just another day on the job.

"We're in charge of guarding the whole beach so I didn't want anyone to get possibly bit if (the shark) did feel cornered," said Cooney.

Around noon on Sunday Cooney said he saw a crowd of people standing in the sand near the Cocoa Beach Pier.

"I went over and my first reaction was that someone was in trouble," said Cooney. "I ran over as fast as possible."

Cooney thought there was a person in the water, but found a five feet long shark swimming in about three inches of water near a group of kids.

Cooney said he didn't even think twice.

He grabbed the shark with his bare hands and pulled it away from a group of children playing in the water.

"I actually saw two fins coming out," said Logan Koeltzow, 8. "One was in the back. One was in the tail, and I saw it swimming side to side in the water."

No one ran away from it. In fact, dozens of beachgoers ran closer. Erik Klouda and Eric Nuha said they saw several people grabbing the shark and trying to drag it onto the sand.

"There was a whole crowd of people around the shark," said Klouda. "Everybody was trying to take pictures with him."

Cooney knew someone had to move the shark. He jumped into action.

"I wasn't really thinking," said Cooney. "I was already in the mindset to help someone and the shark just happened to be there."

And if anyone would know how to handle a shark it would be Cooney.

He and his twin brother started Cooney Wildlife Adventures. They've traveled the world trying to help animals and educate humans about wildlife. The two Central Florida natives recently spent five months in South Africa trying to stop poaching.

"It was kind of the same situation," said Cooney. "Instead of grabbing the tail and then the head, I just grabbed the tail and started dragging him back."

Cooney said the shark started swimming back to the beach, but he dragged it back into deeper waters and let it go. He said the shark swam further out, and wasn't seen again.

Lifeguards closed that part of the beach for a while. No one was hurt during the ordeal.

Cooney believes the boat races that took place earlier on Sunday spooked the shark and disoriented it, and that's what drew it closer to the beach.

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