A 15-year-old surfer tragically lost his life on Thursday after being attacked by a shark at Ethel Beach on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. The victim, Khai Cowley, was surfing around 1:30 p.m. when the shark bit off his leg in front of his father. Despite his father’s efforts and the attempts of paramedics and a witness, Cowley could not be saved.
Tim Philip, a local surfer who witnessed the attack, described seeing Cowley under attack and immediately borrowing a surfboard from a bystander to try and rescue him. “Probably, I’d say [it was] four meters… a pretty big shark,” Philip said. “Then it started to head back out to sea. I was in waist-deep water and just made the decision to run back… chest-deep at this point, grab him, and manage to drag him back to shore, back to the people on the beach.”
At the time of the attack, Cowley was on a vacation with his family. His aunt, Lauryn Barley, has set up a fundraiser to cover the costs of his funeral. In her fundraising description, she revealed that Cowley was attacked by a great white shark, also known as a whiter pointer.
The surfing community of South Australia also acknowledged the tragedy in an online tribute for Cowley. Surfing South Australia described Cowley as someone “very involved” in the surfing community at Ethel Beach and expressed condolences to his family and friends. Ethel Beach, a popular yet remote tourist spot, is located off the Yorke Peninsula in southern Australia.
Recent months have seen a string of similar attacks in Australian waters. A shark killed surfer Tod Gendle near Streaky Bay, north of Marion Bay, in November. While paddling in the water with a group of surfers, the 55-year-old was knocked off his surfboard by a shark, which then “thrashed him about and took him under.”
During a swim near the Beachport jetty in October, Pam Cook suffered leg injuries from a shark attack.
In light of the incident, it is important to remember the dangers posed by sharks in the water. While attacks by sharks are relatively rare, they can have devastating consequences, as seen in this tragic incident. Authorities and marine experts urge people to take precautions when participating in water sports and to be aware of their surroundings.