Kayaker who risked life to fight Great White Shark off 13-year-old gets medal

A kayaker who fought off a Great White Shark that had mauled a 13-year-old boy on a Californian beach has been given a medal of honour.

On September 29 2018, California State Peace Officer Andrew Helbe was kayaking off the coast of Encinitas when he heard Keane Webre-Hayes shriek: “I got bit!”

NBC San Diego reports that when Officer Helbe heard the call he immediately swam over to help the boy with no regard for his own safety considering the presence of the 11-foot aggressive shark.

While his friend paddled their kayak over, Officer Helbe protected the boy from the attentions of the massive shark which refused to go away.

While they waited for the kayak, Helbe and Keane were alone in the sea with Keane’s blood driving the shark into a frenzy.

When they eventually got Keane aboard the kayak, Officer Helbe’s EMT training helped him to stem Keane’s bleeding and prevent him from going into shock, a move that saved his life.

They were met on the beach by lifeguards and a medical transport hospital swiftly arrived.

Keane was taken to the nearby Rady’s Children’s Hospital to recover and was left with injuries to his face, neck, shoulders and back.

Shockingly, he would go on to need more than a thousand stitches following the attack.

On Wednesday (January 5), Officer Helbe’s bravery was officially recognised by the Calfornia Governor’s Office in the form of a Medal of Valour.

In a statement, the Governor’s Office said: “With no regard for his own safety or life, Officer Helble went above and beyond the call of duty and the state of California takes great pride in presenting the Silver Medal of Valor to Department of Parks and Recreation State Park Peace Officer Andrew Helble.”

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Keane’s mother Ellie Hayes also took the opportunity to thank the officer for saving her son.

She said: “It absolutely required courage for them to respond to this call and my son’s call for help and not swim away to save their own lives.

“And with the shark still in the area, they risked their lives to save my son. I’ll be forever grateful.”

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