One small NZ town is now in mourning after a 19-year-old girl was mauled to death by a great white shark after it dragged her out to sea.
Emergency services responded to the scene after a woman had been ‘injured in the water’ at popular tourist spot, Waihi beach. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the young woman only to pronounce her dead at the scene. Reports confirm that Kaelah had sustained bites to at least one of her legs.
Witness Amanda Gould who spoke to the Syndey Herald watched the scene unfold claimed she initially thought that the girl was dragged out by a rip:
We were in the water at the same time as the girl and her friends... they were about five metres in front of us, but they kept getting further and further out.
Gould continued stating that she could see that the girl was struggling:
You could tell she was struggling because there is no way she would go that far out. No one saw her waving out, but I did hear a scream.
It wasn’t until the victim was brought back to shore that Gould discovered there had been a shark in the water:
I thought there was another person out there, but the lifeguard said ‘no, that’s a shark, we need to get people out of the water’.
Locals later held a vigil for the victim as local resident Mark Wilson claimed that it was ‘only a matter of time’ and ‘it could have been any one of us’.
NZ's first fatal shark attack in eight years
This is the first fatal shark attack in New Zealand since 2013. Kina Scollay, a founding member of New Zealand's Great White Shark Project, agreed that the attack was a rare occurrence despite sharks being common in the area:
It’s a very rare thing. There’s plenty of sharks in the ocean not hunting people, it doesn’t happen very often.
The scene of the attack, Waihi beach is a popular destination for holidaymakers in the summer but it is also a hot spot for shark sightings. In the summer a number of sharks can be spotted swimming close to the coast but Scollay spoke to Stuffthat these sharks tend not to bother people:
It is unusual. At this time of year thousands of people are swimming off that area. In general, you shouldn’t have to worry about sharks. It’s just so tragic. My thoughts are with the woman’s family.