MONTEREY, Calif. (KRON) — A Monterey man who survived a harrowing great white shark attack off Lovers Point Beach spoke out in a video released Thursday by a hospital.

The video released by Natividad Medical Center shows an emotional Steve Bruemmer describing the day that turned out to be both the unluckiest, and luckiest, of his life.

Great white sharks live in the Monterey Bay, however, attacks against humans are rare. Bruemmer, 62, is an avid ocean swimmer and member of a local swim club, Kelp Krawlers. June 22 was a perfect summer day for swimming off Pacific Grove’s gorgeous beaches.

“It was a beautiful day. There was no wind, the ocean was flat, there were no waves, it was so calm. I (swam) about a mile and a half. On the way back, I was gliding through the water looking at the sea grasses and sea stars,” he said.

Bruemmer said he was just 150 yards from reaching the shore when, “Wham! I was bit ferociously by a shark. It grabbed me and pulled me up and then dove me down in the water. Of course it spit me out, I’m not a seal.”

In a state of shock and swimming in a pool of his own blood, Brummer was face-to-face with the shark. The great white’s teeth had gravely injured Bruemmer’s thighs, abdomen, and arm.

“It was looking at me, right next to me. I thought it could bite me again so I pushed it with my hand and I kicked at it with my foot,” the swimmer said.

Signs block off access to Lovers Point Beach on the same day of a shark attack. (KRON4 photo / Justin Campbell)

The disappointed shark realized its prey was a scrawny human, not a blubbery seal, and swam away.

“I got myself back to the surface and started yelling for help. That’s when all my luck changed,” the shark attack victim said.

Three brave good Samaritans heard Bruemmer’s screams for help: Moss Landing surfer Heath Braddock, off-duty Sacramento police officer Paul Bandy, and nurse Amy Johns.

Braddock was at Lovers Point Beach at just the right moment because he was leading an ocean excursion for a group of children visiting from Kansas. “They had never been in the ocean before. We were chest-deep getting comfortable with the ocean, embracing the nature of the ocean,” Braddock told KRON4.

When the shark attacked Bruemmer, the Kansas children “got the full immersion, that’s for sure. They saw it all.” Braddock grabbed two surfboards and paddled both boards out to the screaming swimmer.

Bandy and Johns were already in the water paddling on standup paddleboards because they were celebrating their wedding anniversary. Their romantic date rapidly turned into an emergency rescue endeavor.

“Two people, Amy and Paul on paddleboards … veered over to me. One a nurse, one a policeman who had his cellphone with him and called 911 immediately. From the beach Heath brought two surfboards, one for him and one for me. The three of them, in the bloody water, got me up onto the surfboard,” Bruemmer said.

The surfer instructed the victim to hold on to his ankle so he could paddle him back to the beach.

“I paddled as hard as I could,” Braddock told KRON4.

As tears welled up in his eyes, Bruemmer said in the video, “Heroes. How do you get in the bloody water with maybe a shark circling beneath you, to save a stranger? They are amazing.”

“I got to the beach and there were two ICU nurses and a doctor at the beach who took off their own T-shirts to make tourniquets. I had tourniquets on my legs and arms within five minutes to stop the bleeding. Otherwise I would bleed to death. The ambulance was there because Paul had called them so early,” Bruemmer said.

The ambulance driver rushed the victim to Natividad Medical Center’s trauma center in Salinas. A team of surgeons operated for two hours stabilizing the swimmer.

“They used 28 units of blood. Thank you blood donors, without you, I don’t make it. Two days later, they repaired my thighs so that one day I will be able to walk again,” Bruemmer said.

Great white shark jaw
A great white shark’s jaw has multiple rows of teeth. (KRON4 file photo / Amy Larson)

The shark attack survivor thanked the hospital’s entire staff during his recovery.

“So many people… encouraging and kind,” he said. “I was in a tough spot. They were so caring, and I’m going home now, I want to thank Natividad, and the good Samaritans, and the people on the beach, and the lead-footed ambulance driver, and the blood donors. I’m going home, I’m going to recover, and I’m going to be OK thanks to you all.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s forensics lab confirmed that the shark was a white shark. 

Braddock has surfed in the Monterey Bay for decades and he knows of three other surfers who survived great white shark attacks off the coasts of Big Sur, Davenport, and Marina. One of the surfers was nicknamed “Shark Bait” after he was attacked near the Point Sur Lighthouse. “He still surfs today,” Braddock noted.

“All these guys were on surfboards, so they only got teeth on their back. But the swimmer got it on both sides because he didn’t have anything protecting him,” Braddock said.