Hero husband from Letchworth punches shark to rescue wife after attack off Ascension Island

The attack happened off the shore of Ascension Island, pictured. Picture: Drew Avery

The attack happened off the shore of Ascension Island, pictured. Picture: Drew Avery - Credit: Archant

A hero husband from Letchworth punched a shark in the head to rescue his wife after it attacked her while she was swimming.

Dean Gonsalves fought off the three-metre shark after it bit his wife Frankie’s the foot and leg just yards from the shore at Ascension Island’s English Bay on Friday.

Frankie is now in a ‘stable condition’ at Georgetown Hospital on the island in the south Atlantic, and is set to be returned to Britain for further treatment later this week.

Dean and Frankie moved to St Helena, part of the same British Overseas Territory as Ascension Island, when Frankie became a senior social worker for the territory’s government. They had previously lived in Letchworth.

Frankie’s brother Matthew last night called Dean a hero, adding that it was a miracle she was going to be OK.


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Matthew posted on Facebook: “God bless my little sister Frankie Gonsalves – now famous in every major newspaper – who was attacked by a shark almost three metres in length while swimming in Ascension Island with her husband Dean Gonsalves.

“Dean heroically managed to save her life, and she is awaiting air evacuation home from the RAF for more surgery.

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“She is going to be OK, miraculously. Words can’t describe how grateful I am that my ‘little blister’ is still here to tell the tale. Utterly terrifying!”

The St Helena government has since issued a warning notice advising that those who swim in the area do so at their own risk.

In a statement today, it added: “On Friday evening there was an incident involving a swimmer at English Bay being bitten on the ankle by a shark.

“The individual is currently in a stable condition and recovering well. She will be medevac’d to the UK later this week for further treatment.

“A huge appreciation goes to Paul Scipio and Craig Scipio from St Helena, who were both on the beach and whose quick response helped recover the swimmer to the safety of the beach – and of course our own emergency response teams who as ever did a fantastic job.

“The sea rescue team quickly deployed the sea rescue boat, and the police were on hand to gather the facts and ensure other beach users were informed of the risk and the careful and professional handling of this matter by our hospital staff.”

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