The Long Island lifeguard who fended off a shark with his bare hands told the Post on Monday how he faced the deadly predator – and that it’s a miracle he managed to get away in one piece.
Zach Gallo, 33, said he was at Smith Point Beach in Suffolk County on Sunday playing a victim at an ocean training exercise when he suddenly felt a “sharp pinch” in his hand as he stepped into chin-deep water.
“That’s when I pulled it to my chest and my survival instinct kicked in,” said Gallo, who has been a lifeguard for 10 years, at his Bayport home.
“I jerked back and just started pounding, and I felt the rubber texture of the head. It felt like the size of a basketball.”
As the 5-foot-long animal thrashed about in the water, Gallo kept thrashing to keep his sharp teeth away from him, and just seconds later the fight was over, the guard said.
“I just went ‘thump, thump, thump’ and on the third connection the shark turned. I saw the whole body spinning and swimming the other way,” Gallo said.
“And that’s when I realized we were dealing with a shark,” he said.
Gallo said that as he bled from wounds to his chest and hands, he knew the rest of the guards in the water were still in danger and took immediate action.
“When I saw that and felt the tail hit my chest and arm, I told the other guards that I was in the water, ‘Get to shore! On land! On land!’ I probably swam faster than I’ve ever swum in my life,” Gallo recalled.
“When I swam out of the water lifeguards came in which was really great. Luckily I was in an area protected by lifeguards.”
Miraculously, Gallo only needed a few stitches in his hand and a bandage on his chest, and said he was lucky to have so many people around to help him.
“You should have seen the other guy,” he joked.
“I’m grateful it was a minor injury. It could have been a lot worse and I’m just so grateful that I got out of the water on my own. I am grateful that I received EMT services immediately. I’m grateful to work on a beach with the best lifeguards in the world.”
Gallo’s wife, Caitlin Murray, said when she heard the news she first thought he was joking.
“He’s always so fearless. He sounded so calm that I said, ‘Oh, okay, are you sure it wasn’t a bluefish or something?’ It was just crazy to hear it from all his friends who were there: ‘No, that happened. We all watched it happen,'” Murray, 30, told The Post.
“I’m just proud that he had the strength to tell everyone to come out too. I’m so glad he got away with a scratch but he’s the best guard to pick at because he’s the biggest guy on the beach. I’m very proud.”
Despite the killing blow, Gallo said he wasn’t afraid to get back in the water, saying the shark was probably just “curious” and not trying to eat it.
“We are visitors in their world. That was just a curious animal. I have to be out of work for 10 days but I’m looking forward to getting back in the water,” he said.
“I think the most important thing is that you shouldn’t be afraid to go into the water. There is marine life out there and the most important thing is to always swim close to a lifeguard because something like this could happen.”
https://nypost.com/2022/07/04/long-island-lifeguard-zach-gallo-who-fought-off-shark-recounts-terror/ Long Island lifeguard Zach Gallo who fended off a shark opens up about terror