"When you scream for help and you're a lifeguard, you're supposed to get in there. You're supposed to try to help," Ave Maria Thompson said at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where her husband Krishna is recovering from the weekend attack in the Bahamas.
"One of the first things he said to me when they removed the ventilator was that he was screaming and they wouldn't come. He had to swim to them. I'm so hurt," said Thompson, an assistant district attorney in New York.
Eric Waldburger, general manager and chief executive of the Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama, said lifeguards on duty saw Krishna Thompson and immediately jumped into the water and pulled him out.
"We have lifeguards who at their own risk jumped in there ... and it's their job to do that," Waldburger said. "We had him out in no time."
Earlier, Thompson had smiled and laughed as she thanked doctors for saving her husband's life.
"He's my best friend. I never thought of what it would be like without him there until that time and it was horrible," she said. "Usually he's my rock. Usually he keeps me together."
Thompson, 36, was in critical but stable condition Tuesday following surgery to amputate his left leg just above the knee.
The shark tore off most of the soft tissue on the leg, severing nerves and arteries. The shark's teeth came just short of the bone, leaving muscle, skin and fat just hanging from shreds of skin.
Dr. Nicholas Namias said Thompson is lucky to be alive.
"The injuries that he had, he should have bled to death right there in the Bahamas on the beach," he said.
The Wall Street banker from Central Islip, N.Y., was attacked by the shark on Saturday, during a morning swim in the waters near the resort where the couple were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.
Ave Maria Thompson said her husband used his bare hands to pound the shark and got free, reaching the shore on his own and then passing out from shock and blood loss. She said that before passing out he was able to scrawl his hotel room number in the sand, so hotel staff could find her.
Hotel officials gave a contradicting account. In a statement, they said two lifeguards saw the shark's fin and jumped in after Krishna Thompson, who was between 15 and 18 feet from shore.
The lifeguards saw blood in the water and used a hand-to-hand rescue method to pull him out. Once ashore, the lifeguards applied towels and a tourniquet to stop the bleeding in the mangled leg, the statement said.
Earlier accounts of the rescue given by Thompson's wife and doctors in Miami credited a doctor who happened by as the one who applied the tourniquet.
Asked why Krishna Thompson told his wife that no one helped him get to shore, Waldburger suggested he was probably in shock. Waldburger said the hotel preared a report of the incident, but was not investigating the matter.
The resort has 7 1/2 acres of beach and typically has 10 or more lifeguards stationed along shore and near the hotel pool, said Nickito Johnson, another hotel official.
Namias said Thompson should be able to leave the hospital and go into physical rehabilitation in about a week.
His wife described her husband as athletic and said she told him he could still run and dance again with help of prosthetics. She also asked him if there was anything he wanted or needed that she could bring him.
"He wrote 'A leg,"' she said.
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