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Resort officials insist lifeguards helped shark victim

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Officials at a resort in the Bahamas insist their lifeguards came to the aid of a New York man attacked by a shark, disputing statements by the victim's wife that no one responded to his cries.

Krishna Thompson, 36, was attacked Saturday in the waters off of Our Lucaya, a resort on Grand Bahama Island. He was later taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where his leg was amputated just above the knee.

At an emotional news conference Tuesday, Thompson's wife, Ave Maria, said that "one of the first things [my husband] said to me when they removed the ventilator was that he was screaming and they wouldn't come."

"When you scream for help, and you're a lifeguard, you're supposed to get in there, you are supposed to try to help," she said. "He had to swim to them."

But Eric Waldburger, general manager of Our Lucaya, said two lifeguards who witnessed the attack "did not waste a second and jumped right in."

"The lifeguards did pull Mr. Thompson out of the water," he said.

Thompson was about 15 feet offshore at the time of the attack, Waldburger said. After he was pulled to the beach, one lifeguard applied towels to his leg to slow the bleeding, then used a belt from the pants of another staff member to tie a tourniquet on his left leg.

Then, a doctor jogging by on the beach, Dr. Roland Corral, stopped to help the lifeguards put Thompson's body in an inclined position to reduce bleeding, Waldburger said.

A statement from Our Lucaya quotes Corral as saying the lifeguards' quick action saved Thompson's life.

Resort staff summoned an ambulance, and the victim was taken to a nearby hospital. He was later transferred to Miami.

Thompson remains in critical condition, but he is awake, alert and responsive, said Dr. Nicholas Nemias of Jackson Memorial. At one point, Thompson went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated.

"It is surprising ... that he's alive," Nemias said. "The injuries that he had, he should have bled to death right there in the Bahamas on the beach."

The Thompsons were in the Bahamas celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Krishna Thompson was swimming alone when the shark bit his leg.

Ave Maria Thompson said her husband managed to fight off the shark, swim to shore and scrawl his hotel room number in the sand before losing consciousness.

She said she received a call asking her to go to the hotel's pool area. She said the sight of her husband after the shark attack was "the worst I've ever experienced."

"You take people for granted until you stand a chance of losing them," she said. "I never thought of what it would be like without him there until that time, and it was horrible."

Thompson's father, Donald Harper, said he's not surprised his son was able to fight off the shark.

"Krishna is a very strong guy. He's brave. He's very determined," Harper said. "If he sets his mind out to do anything, he will do it."

Nemias said Thompson could be moved out of intensive care and begin rehabilitation in about a week, if his recovery goes "absolutely perfectly."

Our Lucaya uses lifeguards supplied by an independent contractor, Ocean Motion. Lifeguards receive 72 hours of training, the resort's statement said.

Waldburger said the attack was the first ever at Our Lucaya and only the third documented shark attack on Grand Bahama in the last century.

"It's a very, very isolated incident," he said.

• Jackson Memorial Hospital

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