Aussie bodyboarding champ ‘extremely lucky’ to be alive after random knife attack

Friends have described the terrifying moment a bodyboarding champion was viciously stabbed by a man “lurking in the shadows” during a fishing trip on the New South Wales Mid North Coast.

Ryan Duck, who also manages several bars in Newcastle, was lake fishing with work mates in Pacific Palms near Forster at around midnight on Sunday when a stranger approached them.

“The guy came up to them and was kind of being a bit weird and suspicious and harassing them a little bit,” Nathan Pepper, one of Ryan’s oldest friends, told Yahoo News Australia. “So they asked him to leave and then he went and sat in the bush and was watching them, and all the girls got a little bit freaked out.”

It was Ryan, “being the oldest one,” who then suggested they walk back to the caravan park where they were staying.

Ryan Duck pouring a drink at a bar (left) and bodyboarding (right).
Bodyboarding champion and Newcastle bar manager, Ryan Duck, is fighting for life after the brutal knife attack. Source: Instagram

“The guy then followed them back over there and was still kind of lurking in the shadows, watching them,” Nathan continued. “So Ryan confronted the man and the man just stabbed him four times and then ran away.”

“He was stabbed once to the left of the abdomen, once under his left arm and twice in his left arm.”

Father-to-be inches from death

Thankfully Ryan’s quick thinking friends jumped into action and while an ambulance was called they wrapped him up and helped put pressure on his wounds.

Suffering serious injuries and in a critical condition, the soon-to-be-father was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital where his brother Jaxson was already waiting for him, before undergoing two life-saving surgeries.

A lake in Pacific Palms near Forster on the NSW Mid North Coast.
Ryan was attacked while out fishing with friends at Pacific Palms near Forster on the NSW Mid North Coast. Source: Google Maps

“He’s come through on the other side but he was on the closer side of not making it which is not nice to hear but he’s pulled through strong,” Nathan said. “He’s extremely lucky that none of the stab wounds hit anything major. So for how unlucky he was, he is very lucky at the same time.”

Meanwhile the alleged offender was arrested a short time after the attack. The 35-year-old has been charged with wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Friends dig deep to support Ryan’s recovery

With a long journey ahead, Ryan’s friends and family have rallied around him, with his brother and pregnant partner Sophie barely leaving his side.

“He was still very shaken by the whole event but he was actually super positive,” Nathan said after visiting Ryan on Wednesday. “He managed to stand up and walk a short few metres but it’s going to be a slow, long process.”

Ryan and his partner Sophie in front of their new house (left) and Ryan and Sophie (right).
Nathan Pepper, who's known Ryan for more than 20 years, says the local champion had just bought a house and is expecting a baby with his partner Sophie. Source: Instagram

While the bodyboarding champion works to get back on his feet, Nathan has set up a GoFundMe page to support the expectant parents. In just two days, almost $30,000 has been raised.

“The purpose is just to help him out financially because he's not going to be able to work for a long time and with just buying a house and all the medical and physio bills and mortgage payments, it's just to help them out that way so he doesn't have to feel stress to go back to work,” Nathan said.

He added that the fundraiser was a no-brainer for someone who is always there for others.

“Ryan’s such a likeable and positive person in our community,” he said. “He’s always teaching people to surf and runs a few bars and everybody knows of him and goes to these bars particularly for that reason because of how much a good personality he has and he's such a well-known figure.”

“He’s the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back, so he deserves the help.”

Nathan, who owns the Berry Brothers smoothie bar in Newcastle, says they will also be running a fundraiser this weekend with all proceeds of an acai bowl named The Ducky going towards Ryan’s recovery.

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