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Re: 06/23/2005 Alysha Margaret Webster (Vanatu) ***Fatal***
Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:13 pm
Family face demons after shark attack
4:00AM Sunday Oct 05, 2008
By Rebecca Milne
Grant and Sheree Webster. Photo / Jason Dorday
The parents of a young girl killed by a shark are continuing to rebuild their lives by opening a campground metres from a popular beach.
Seven-year-old Alysha Webster died after she was attacked while swimming in shallow water off a remote island in Vanuatu three years ago.
Her parents, Grant and Sheree, and siblings, Jessica, 12, and James, 8, from Whenuakite in the Coromandel, are still reeling from their loss.
In a bid to unite families and honour their daughter's memory, the former dairy farmers bought a nursery at Hot Water Beach and have worked hard since December to transform it into a holiday destination.
"It's a perfect place for a campground," said Sheree. "It has native trees and is metres from the beach. The locals are stoked."
Alysha was swimming about 50m off Malekula Island during a family holiday when the shark attacked.
The campground's logo, which has yet to be completed, will incorporate a Monarch butterfly in Alysha's memory, Sheree said.
"We want people to get back to family. We want to bring families together by have them slowing down for two weeks in the sun."
The holiday park will also give the family a much-needed excuse to spend more time at the beach this summer.
"Unless family is with us, we don't go to the beach much," Sheree said. "We get caught up in life."
The Websters believe the traditional Kiwi camping holiday remains popular.
Grant grew up in Mercury Bay and watched many camping grounds at Hot Water Beach make way for multimillion-dollar baches.
And with more than 100 inquiries it seems not everyone wants, or can afford, a holiday in the lap of luxury.
The Websters have subdivided their dairy farm and planted 2500 avocado trees. They plan to keep their horticulture business and eventually employ managers to run their holiday park.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/artic ... d=10535777
Re: 06/23/2005 Alysha Margaret Webster (Vanatu) ***Fatal***
Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:00 pm
Distraught parents rushed in vain to save Alysha
12:00AM Friday June 24, 2005
By Louisa Cleave and Tony Stickley
Alysha Webster, pictured in 2002, died from extensive injuries after she was mauled by a shark in Vanuatu.
Related nzherald links:
* Little Alysha lived life to full
The parents of a young New Zealand girl attacked by a shark in Vanuatu made a frantic journey by boat and truck to a remote island hospital in an effort to save her.
Grant and Sheree Webster were watching 7-year-old Alysha swimming in shallow water off a remote island when she was attacked on Wednesday.
The couple were sitting on a beach on the island of Atchin, about 50m off Malekula Island, when Alysha was taken by a shark in front of them.
The family were on a sailing holiday with Mr Webster's parents and friends, all from the same small Coromandel community of Whenuakite.
Their other children - an older daughter and a younger son - were playing in a canoe nearby.
Local police said Mr Webster saw Alysha go under the water and when she surfaced she cried out.
Her father rushed into the water to try to save her and found her with extensive injuries.
The shark had bitten her left side, taking her leg and causing severe internal damage.
Police said Mr and Mrs Webster used a small boat, understood to be a dinghy from their yacht, to take Alysha to the mainland.
They then flagged down a truck, which drove them to Norsup Hospital about 7km away.
Inspector George Songi of the Lakatoro police said the drive took about 30 minutes.
Alysha suffered severe bleeding and would not have survived long after the attack, he said.
Her distraught parents had spoken to police yesterday at the hospital.
"The other kids were in a canoe," said Mr Songi. "The little girl was swimming not too far from her parents. They were sitting on the beach. All of a sudden the shark came in and attacked."
He said Mr Webster did not see the shark. "The father tried to rescue the daughter but when she came up she had already lost her leg and the side of her stomach."
A French-speaking doctor at the hospital said Alysha was dead when she arrived at the hospital.
She had lost a lot of blood at the beach.
Mr and Mrs Webster flew to Port Vila with their daughter's body yesterday afternoon on a charter flight organised by the New Zealand High Commission.
Corporal Henry Jimmy of the Lakatoro police said the remaining members of the sailing group had taken the yacht to another island.
Paul Willis, New Zealand's High Commissioner in Port Vila, said the family wanted to return home as soon as possible.
He understood that local people were swimming in the same area where the attack took place.
"Sharks are a fact of life in Vanuatu. There are sharks in these waters but many, many people swim around the islands here ... so one has to be pretty unlucky, I think.
"Some areas are known to be more dangerous than others and local custom has it that beaches with black sand seem to attract sharks.
"The rule of thumb has usually been that if you're in one of the more remote areas and locals are swimming at the beach, they probably know what is safe and what isn't. But in this case that wasn't enough."
Journalist Mark Lowen, an expatriate Australian who publishes Port Vila Presse, said local people knew where it was safe to swim.
"There are areas where locals know sharks congregate. It's Malekula where most people are taken by sharks. More people are attacked and killed there than anywhere else."
He said the attacks were often not reported, or reported only in local media.
Department of Conservation shark expert Clint Duffy, who has scuba-dived in Vanuatu, agreed.
He said most attacks occurred in the tropics, where some of the world's most fearsome sharks, including tiger sharks, bull sharks and great whites, trawled the warmer waters.
Tiger sharks were one of the common species likely to be found in the tropics, both in deep water and around reefs and in shallower water.
They were second only to great whites in the number of attacks on humans, could grow up to 6m and had a jaw width of up to 50cm.
"They are designed to feed on whatever they come across, from things like rock lobsters to dolphins, other sharks and turtles," he said.
"They are capable of biting a turtle in half."
The shark that killed Alysha Webster might never be identified, Mr Duffy said.
Long-time Vanuatu diving business owner Kevin Green said the islands were no more dangerous than other Pacific islands.
Also an expatriate Australian, he has dived and taught diving in Vanuatu for around 17 years. A few years ago he ran a shark-feeding and swimming tourism business.
"I never had a problem at all."
Mr Green said some places in Vanuatu had a reputation for being more dangerous than others, including Port Sandwich, where New Zealander Andrea Rush was attacked by a shark in 1992.
Despite a punctured artery in her leg, Ms Rush survived the attack.
Mr Green said at certain times of the year, locals avoided some areas.
"But in some cases it's just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
- additional reporting: Anne Beston, Tony Stickley
06/23/2005 Alysha Margaret Webster (Vanatu) ***Fatal***
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:01 am
Girl, 7, killed in shark attack
June 23, 2005 - 10:22AM
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A seven-year-old New Zealand girl has been killed by a shark in Vanuatu.
Alysha Margaret Webster was swimming off a beach on Malekula Island in the north of the Pacific island group when the attack occurred yesterday afternoon, New Zealand's Foreign Ministry said.
Alysha was on a yachting holiday with her parents, Grant and Sheree Webster, who come from Whitianga in New Zealand's north.
The New Zealand high commission in Port Vila is assisting the family with their return home.
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:03 am
Community mourns shark attack victim
Jun 23, 2005
A Coromandel family's winter holiday has ended with a seven-year-old girl being killed by a shark.
Alysha Webster was swimming just metres from a beach on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu when she was attacked.
Arrangements are being made for the return of her body to a shocked community near Whitianga.
The family were swimming with locals in a bay near Norsup when the shark attacked, killing Alysha Webster.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Vanuatu Paul Willis says the the family were close by when the attack happened.
"They would be obviously quite shocked and traumatised by what they saw. In any circumstance like that it would be a horrible event to witness"
They had sailed their yacht to Vanuatu from the marina in Whitianga, near to where they live in the Coromandel community of Whenuakite.
Keith Morcom, who part-owns the yacht with the Websters, says the news knocked the feet from under him.
"The family have been friends for about 30 years and we've raced and sailed together all of that time, so we've got to know each other in boating a lot," says Morcom.
Whenuakite School Principle Jamie Marsden says trauma counsellors have been helping Alysha's friends.
"There have been sad moments, there's lots of sharing and Alysha's room is coping really well. They're having the times when they need them to have a cry, to write things down, to put little cards on the desk," says Marsden.
Alysha is described as a typical seven-year-old. "Full of life, full of personality, a determined little girl. She loved school, she loved swimming," says Marsden.
Meanwhile, the Vanuatu community has been left wondering how safe their waters are.
"There are lots of sharks in the waters of Vanuatu; tiger sharks, hammerheads, reef sharks... From what we know, there aren't a lot of deaths. I mean, the local people exercise caution, they know where it is safe to swim," says Willis.
The high commissioner is now helping the family make plans for their return to New Zealand.
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:02 am
Fatal shark attack stuns community
Jun 24, 2005
The death of a young New Zealand girl killed by a shark has shocked the small rural community of Whenuakite.
Seven-year-old Alysha Webster died when a shark attacked her as she swam near a small island off Malekula Island in northern Vanuatu on Wednesday. She was on a yachting holiday with her family.
The Vanuatu Daily Post reported her left leg was bitten off. She was rushed to Norsup hospital but had lost too much blood and could not be revived.
New Zealand high commissioner Paul Willis said the attack was so severe that Alysha would have died quickly. The commission will help fly the family home.
The news has stunned the Whitianga community of Whenuakite where the Websters live. A neighbour of the family, Keith Morcom, said the entire community is very upset by the death and want to help. Morcom said the community is preparing to support her family when they bring her body home.
Shark expert Clinton Duffy said tourists need to take precautions to minimise the chance of shark attacks in the tropics. Duffy said sharks are common in tropical waters and hone in on pale flesh.
But he said even in the tropics, fatal attacks are very rare. He advises swimmers should avoid wearing bright clothing or shiny objects that sharks may mistake for small fish and not swim at night.
Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:02 am
A young New Zealand girl has been killed by a shark while swimming during a holiday in Vanuatu on an island known for such attacks.
Seven-year-old Alysha Margaret Webster was swimming off a beach with other people on Malekula Island in the north of the South Pacific island group when the attack occurred on Wednesday afternoon.
Alysha was on a yachting holiday with her parents Grant and Sheree Webster, from Whitianga on New Zealand's North Island.
They had sailed to Malekula from the Vanuatu capital Port Vila.
A plane chartered on Thursday by the New Zealand High Commission flew the Websters and Alysha's body back to Port Vila.
Malekula is well known for shark attacks and a number of local children have been killed over the years in similar circumstances, Port Vila Presse reported.
High Commissioner Paul Willis said it was customary to check with a local chief or village to see if it was safe to swim in nearby waters.
"In this case, I understand there were local people around, so clearly the family might have had some reason to expect that it wasn't going to be too dangerous," Willis told Radio New Zealand.
AdvertisementThe High Commission will also assist the family with their return home.
A popular tourist destination for Australians and New Zealanders, Vanuatu is located east of Australia between New Caledonia and Fiji.