A man who wrestled a shark away from an Australian beach was dismissed from work for taking sick leave.
Paul Marshallsea, who became famous after pushing back a shark from toddlers on an Australian beach, was fired by his employer for appearing less than sickly while taking sick leave from work.
Video footage of Marshallsea's courageous act was picked up by numerous news media and was posted on YouTube, turning him into an instant hero.
Marshallsea, 62, had been on vacation in Queensland in January with his wife Wendy and his daughter Rachel when the shark sighting took place.
When he returned home to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, after his trip, there was a letter waiting for him from the charity where he worked.
It contained some very unpleasant news.
The charity, Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club, said in the letter that he had been dismissed for his brave actions, Wales Online reported, because he had been on sick leave at that time.
It read: “Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way; the photographs and footage appearing in newspapers and television broadcasts.”
Marshallsea and his wife had taken sick leave over "work-related" stress, the Wales Online website reported. The charity's trustees decided to fire them after watching TV footage of the incident, according to the website.
The couple, who had worked for the charity for decades, are disgusted with how their employer had treated them, reported Wales Online.
“If I hadn’t gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job," Marshallsea, a grandfather, told the website. “You think being in charge and running a children’s charity, they would have tapped me on the back."
Video footage of the shark sighting shows dozens of swimmers running out of the water at Bulcock Beach in Queensland as lifeguards try to coax it away. According to Australian TV news reports, the shark, a Bronze Whaler, was trying to come ashore.
Marshallsea, who had been attending a barbeque on the beach, ran into the water and tackled the shark with his bare hands. He helped get it back into deeper water, narrowly escaping being bit by the animal as it thrashed around in the water.
"I think there's something wrong with him," Marshallsea told a reporter interviewing him, referring to the shark.
Helicopters and jet skis helped entice the shark toward a creek.
According to Australian news reports, experts believed that the shark was sick, and that "while it was not aggressive people should stay away from it."
Some swimmers on Bulcock Beach said they didn't want to go back into the water after the shark sighting.
Meanwhile, back home in Wales, Marshallsea is worried about finding a new job.
“Where do I now get a job? There’s not much call for shark-wrestlers in Merthyr Tydfil," he told Wales Online.
Marshallsea and his wife have been on leave since last April. Marshallsea told Wales Online that running the club for seven days in a row had become really stressful.
He said that he had traveled to Australia for a holiday on his doctor's advice.