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Man Shares Photos From Shark Attack That Cost Him His Leg

Man Shares Photos From Shark Attack That Cost Him His Leg
PA Real Life

A kickboxer who lost his right leg after a 'Jaws'-style shark attack, while spearfishing at sea, has told how thinking of his beloved fiancee kept him alive, as he nearly bled to death from his appalling injuries.

Dad-of-three Glenn Dickson, 27, a semi-professional kickboxer and boilermaker, was savaged by a 10-foot bull shark – considered one of the world's most dangerous – as he fished with three friends off the coast near his hometown of Mission Beach in Queensland, Australia.

But the tables turned, as Glenn dived down into the ocean with a speargun, only to be preyed upon by a bull shark – rated by experts alongside great whites and tiger sharks as one of the three species most likely to attack humans – which tore through his thigh with its razor-sharp teeth, then ripping off his calf muscle.

Glenn recovering in Cairns Hospital (Collect/PA Real Life)

Several times during the five hours it took to sail back to dry land and reach a hospital, Glenn recalled seeing “a bright white light" rising above his eyes, adding:

“At one stage, there was so much blood pouring out of my leg that I was just minutes from death. I lost half the blood in my body."
“I could see a bright light in my eyes and knew that if I allowed it to overcome me, I wouldn't come back."
“But the thought of my beautiful wife-to-be, Jessie-Lee, and our lovely children made me hold on and not let go. "

After a six-hour operation to try and stop the blood loss, by amputating his right leg, Glenn survived – although things had been so touch-and-go, he had waited for Jessie-Lee to arrive before going into surgery, so he could say goodbye.

Grateful to be alive, despite his amputation, his fighting spirit then saw the keen athlete -who was planning on becoming a professional kickboxer – go back to the gym wearing a prosthetic, just three months after his terrifying ordeal.

But his greatest achievement was walking stay-at-home-mum Jessie-Lee, 25, whom he has known since he was four-years-old, down the aisle on the idyllic local beach, where they used to play together as children – supported by their own three flower-bearing children, Rees, five, Lylah, three, and Aurora, one, in October 2018.

Glenn, Jessie-Lee and their three children (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

“Marrying Jessie-Lee was something that, at one point, I thought would never come true," said Glenn.

“But it was an unforgettable day, the kind of thing that makes you remember what is really important in life, and I'm just so grateful that I was able to make it out of hospital alive and have that."

An enthusiastic fisherman since childhood, Glenn took up spearfishing – a method of fishing which involves diving into the water and shooting fish at close-range with a speargun – in 2016, when his friend Rick Bettua, 56, offered to teach in him in exchange for kickboxing lessons.

Glenn's savaged leg – blurred (Collect/PA Real Life)

Enjoying regular trips together in Rick's Cootacraft boat in Coral Sea just off Queensland, in north eastern Australia, the pair were spoilt for choice with over 1,500 species of fish living in the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef.

Often seeing sharks swimming nearby, they had rarely had any trouble from them and prodded them with their spearguns if any came too close for comfort.

“Sharks are just carnivores like us, who need to eat to survive, and seeing them so frequently – maybe once every trip – you get used to them being there," said Glenn.

Glenn spearfishing with one leg, 2017 (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added:

“It can be a little discomforting when they swim near you, but I'd never had any reason to be frightened of them."

That changed on February 18 2017, when Glenn, Rick and their pals, Peter and Aaron, set out early in the morning, to make the most of the beautiful, sunny day.

Leaving before Jessie-Lee or their children were awake, Glenn recalled:

“It was an incredible day and the water was unusually calm."

Glenn with Rick on a spearfishing trip, four months after the attack (Collect/PA Real Life)

He also remembered the ocean being far murkier than normal, meaning the friends struggled to see very far ahead when they jumped into the water near the reefs, about 12 miles from dry land.

Swimming towards a rocky outcrop in search of tusker fish, Glenn momentarily stopped in the water, realizing that the cable attaching his spear and his gun was tangled.

In a split second, a fully-grown bull shark rose from the depths towards the distracted angler, clamping its jaws down on his right leg.

Glenn sparring with a friend before the attack (Collect/PA Real Life)

“It took me completely by surprise," said Glenn. “I just felt this awesome jolt smash right through my entire body."

“It had my whole leg inside its mouth, with its teeth in my thigh going right down through into the bone."

Shaking and twisting at the fisherman's semi-swallowed limb, the shark attempted to gnaw through his femur, or thigh bone.

Glenn spearfishing with one leg (Collect/PA Real Life)

When it couldn't bite it off, it regurgitated the part of the limb it was trying to swallow, giving Glenn – by then floating in his own blood – a window of opportunity to swim for safety.

“I knew that he was going to come back for me, so I had to try and get out of the water," said Glenn, who used his three working limbs to swim towards a nearby rock.

“But before I could reach it the shark came at me again. I remember seeing him approach me through clouds of my own blood."

Glenn's savaged leg – blurred (Collect/PA Real Life)

The second bite snatched Glenn's calf muscle, which he now believes to have been a stroke of luck, as the shark could have attacked his head or body.

Bleeding profusely, with parts of his flesh hanging off, astonishingly he summoned the strength to scramble up the rock, from where his friends in the boat were able to drag him to safety.

Using his military training, Rick, a former US marine, immediately tore off his diving belt and used it as a tourniquet, to help slow the flow of blood, pouring from Glenn's major femoral artery.

Glenn and Rick holding a spear gun (Collect/PA Real Life)

“That probably saved my life," said Glenn, who was struggling to breathe and had turned icy cold. “You can bleed to death within three minutes and it was an hour-long journey back to the shore.

“Peter and Aaron had never seen anything like it and were pretty shaken up, vomiting over the boat, although Rick, having seen dramatic injuries on active duty, remained very calm.

“I was falling in and out of consciousness and Rick had to resuscitate me about four or five times. He knew that if I fell asleep, I wouldn't come back again."

Glenn sparring with a kickbag just four months after his attack (Collect/PA Real Life)


Several times, seeing a bright light as his eyelids began to close, Glenn felt he was sure to die if he gave in to the “comforting and warm feeling" it seemed to offer.

But just as he started to slip away, the thought of his three children and beautiful fiancée waiting at home would flash into his mind.

He added:

“Seeing their faces and thinking how I might be deprived of having a wonderful future with them, pushed me not to give in – to force my body to stay alive and to get back to my family."

Glenn with baby Aurora (Collect/PA Real Life)

Eventually reaching dry land, Glenn was hooked up to a saline drip by paramedics on the ground, while they waited for a helicopter to take him to Cairns Hospital.

By this stage, Jessie-Lee had been informed of the attack and was on her way to hospital, where she met Glenn seconds before amputation surgery.

“I knew she was on her way, but the doctors were telling me that I had to get into the operating room as soon as possible, to stop the blood that was hemorrhaging out of me and causing my organs to close down," he said.

Glenn and Jessie-Lee on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

He continued:

“Still, I think they knew that there was quite a strong chance I'd never see her again – so they let me wait for her, to say what could be my final goodbyes."
“I asked her for what could be my last kiss and took off my oxygen mask even though doctors were telling me to keep it on."

But surgery was a success and, afterwards, Glenn was put into an induced coma for a week, because of fears that the shock of attack could have lasting damage on his brain.

Glenn sparring with a friend a few months after the attack (Collect/PA Real Life)

Astonishingly, despite recovery taking some patients years, just over a month later, against the expectations of medical experts, Glenn left hospital and three months later was walking with a prosthetic leg.

“I wanted to prove the medical team wrong and do better than the doctors expected," he said.

“As an athlete, I'm used to pushing myself all the time, and fighting the urge to relent."

Glenn and Jessie-Lee on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

Glenn continued:

“I thought, 'This isn't going to stop my life. I'm going to carry on and get back on track with things.'"

Soon, he was back at the gym lifting weights and, just a month after being fitted with a prosthetic, returned to the ring sparring with his old kickboxing partners.

Sadly, however, he has not gone back to his boilermaking job, as the heat makes him sweat, causing his carbon fiber limb to slip from his stump.

Glenn and Jessie-Lee with their bridesmaids and ushers (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

Because of this, the couple could not afford the wedding they had been meticulously planning.

But, thanks to the kindness of friends and strangers, who donated Jessie-Lee's dress and around $3,000 to help them, they went ahead with the beach ceremony of their dreams, surrounded by their family and friends, on October 6, 2018.

“As we were exchanging our vows, our three kids came running up to us and stood next to us in front of everyone," said Glenn.

Glenn on his wedding day (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

He added:

“It was great, we didn't mind, because we are a very relaxed kind of family that treasures spending time with each other."

Now working as a personal trainer, specializing in kickboxing, Glenn will soon be opening his own gym, which he has helped to fund through a donation page that has raised several thousand pounds.

Never one to sit still for long, he also has his sights set on competing in the Paralympics for running.

Glenn and Jessie-Lee on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

And he remains a keen spearfishing fan, fearlessly returning to the waters where he was attacked, albeit with just one flipper now.

“The chances of one shark attack happening are pretty slim, so for it to happen twice would be unbelievable and, logically, it doesn't make sense to stop doing the thing I love," he said.

“I want to carry on with my life and keep working and training."

Glenn and Jessie-Lee with their three children (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

He continued:

“People sometimes find it surprising to see a one legged kickboxer, but more than that they see me as an inspiration."
“Because it doesn't matter how unexpected the things that life can throw at you – you can still get over it and move on."

For Jessie-Lee, Glenn's attack was devastating.

Glenn and Jessie-Lee on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Marion Jonkers Photography)

She said:

“It all felt like a terrible nightmare. When I got the phone call telling me what had happened, I was hysterical and in a state of complete shock."
“But Glenn has recovered amazingly well, and getting married this year was wonderful."
“Because when your world gets turned upside down by something like that, you realize that you can't take life for granted."

For Glenn's donation page visit

A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.