A swimmer who was recovering after being bitten by a white shark in the waters off a Southern California beach said in an exclusive interview with NBC4 that he thought he was going to die as the shark dug its teeth into the side of his body.
- Download: Download the NBCLA app
Steve Robles, 50, of Lomita was swimming near the Manhattan Beach Pier about 9:30 a.m. Saturday when a 7-foot juvenile shark that was trying to free itself from a fishing line bit him under his arm.
"You could feel the whole body shaking with the shark, the whole thing trying to gnaw in at me," Robles told NBC4.
"He surfaces to the top, I see him for two seconds and he makes a really sharp turn and comes lunging right at me on my chest," Robles said. "I had no time to react, it just happened so quick."
Lifeguards said it had been more than a century since someone has been attacked by a shark in Los Angeles County.
Robles escaped with chest lacerations and broken artery in his thumb. He spent 8 hours in a Harbor-UCLA Medical Center emergency room.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"I used my hand to grab his nose, pried him off me," Robles said. "I mean, I thought that was it. For just a second I thought this was it, I was really scared."
A fisherman said he and his friends were trying to catch bat rays when they hooked the shark. The group had the shark on a fishing line for about 30 minutes when Robles came too close and was bitten.
It's against California law to fish for great white sharks. Fishermen who catch one must cut it loose once it's been identified.
The fisherman said he didn't cut the line right away because the shark was close to swimmers and surfers.
Robles, a dedicated long distance swimmer, said he will swim in the ocean again. His wife thinks fishing off the pier may not be such a good idea.
"I almost lost my husband and that bothers me a lot," she said. "I thank God that my husband's life has been spared today."
Robles said he wants to thank the paddleboarder who helped rescue him.