STUART — The lifeguard who attempted to save a kiteboarder Wednesday off Stuart Beach was the victim of a shark attack himself more than 20 years ago.
So as he fought rough winds and high waves on Wednesday, Daniel Lund, 46, realized what lay ahead about 20 yards before he reached the kiteboarder, Stephen Schafer, a quarter-mile off the beach. He saw blood in the water and "two or three sharks" nearby.
Lund, a nine-year veteran whose leg was severely injured by a shark in 1986 off Hutchinson Island, swam in anyway.
"It was nerve-wracking," Lund said today in his first interview after the fatal shark attack that claimed Schafer, 38. The fatal attack, also off Hutchinson Island, was the first in Martin County.
Knowing from experience and lifeguard training that sharks tend to bite, then swim away, and come back to their victim, Lund moved fast to recover Schafer. The man had several big gashes in his leg and arm, according to a police report.
"The amount of blood that was in the water was definitely going to attract them," Lund said.
Lund cradled the man's head in one arm and paddled back to shore with the other. The waves were so rough that both were thrown apart once before they made it in.
Lund recovered the man a second time on his buoy and brought him to the beach where paramedics started CPR. Schafer later died at Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart.
Lund said Schafer talked to him until they were about half-way from shore. He wouldn't say what Schafer's last words were, but Lund said he remained hopeful throughout the ordeal that the man would survive the attack.
"You don't ever want to lose somebody," he said.