01/07/2006 Sarah Kate Whiley (Australia) ***Fatal***

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2006.

01/07/2006 Sarah Kate Whiley (Australia) ***Fatal***

Postby sharkbait » Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:51 pm

Onlookers thought 'shark' cries were joke

Woman, 21, dies in shark attack
A woman desperately called out "Shark!" as she was being mauled to death in a frenzied attack by up to three of them - but onlookers thought she was joking.

The sharks struck as Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, from McDowall in Brisbane's northside, was swimming at Amity Point, off Queensland's North Stradbroke Island, about 5.30pm (AEST) yesterday.

Within seconds they had torn off both her arms and savagely mauled her torso and legs.

Two fishermen were the first to react, managing to drag her out of the water onto the beach.

Frantic bystanders scrambled for towels to stem the bleeding before a helicopter rushed her to Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital where she died of shock and massive blood loss.

Ms Whiley was among a group of friends from a church group swimming in waist-deep water 15 metres offshore.

Queensland Ambulance paramedic Lachlan Parker said she was barely alive when they reached her.

"She had lost significant amounts of blood," Mr Parker told ABC Radio.

"The patient had what we call altered level of consciousness where [we weren't] able to communicate directly with the patient."

The horror of the pack attack has stunned the carefree holiday haven just east of Brisbane.

Beaches have been closed as police and fishermen search waters off the Moreton Bay island for the sharks that attacked in waters about 15 metres from the sand.

Inspector Peter Harding said today all beaches within a two-kilometre stretch both east and west of the fateful spot - known as Rainbow Channel - had been closed "for a while" as a precautionary measure.

The shark death was the first at a beach protected by Queensland's Shark Safety Program since it began 44 years ago, Acting Premier Anna Bligh said.

Ms Bligh ordered an urgent investigation into the attack to assess the effectiveness of the program, which featured nets or drumlines - large baited hooks anchored to the seabed - in place off 84 beaches including Amity.

In the first detailed description of the tragedy, Inspector Harding said Ms Whiley had been swimming with three friends from a church group when she was attacked.

"She went down under the water ... after about five or six seconds the deceased came out of the water and screamed 'Shark' and of course people at the time thought she was only joking ... until they saw the blood," he said.

He said the extent of Ms Whiley's injuries indicated it was a pack of bull sharks, noted for their aggressive nature at this time of year

"She was bleeding quite heavily - I'm of the opinion of what I've seen and what I've been told, there was more than one shark involved, there could have been up to three," he said.

He said police divers and fishermen were trying to hunt down the sharks to "retrieve what we can".

"If we found them I suppose we would try to retrieve them and see if they have any body parts," he said.

"Realistically it's virtually impossible."

He said some locals won't go near Rainbow Channel, which he described as one of the deepest in Moreton Bay, "at any time".

"After Friday night's storm - the water was very murky and dirty, in fact so much so one of the locals of there wouldn't go in and dive," he said.

Despite earlier reports, he said there was no dog with Ms Whiley at the time of the attack, and that she was in water "anything from chest-deep to 30 feet".

Ms Bligh said the fatality proved the Shark Safety Program, initiated by the State Government in 1962 following a number of fatal shark attacks, was not an "impenetrable barrier between bathers and sharks".

"Amity Point has shark drumlines - they've had them since 1997 so it is very serious that there has been a fatality at a swimming beach that has these measures in place," she said.

Authorities said it was not clear what species of shark was responsible for the death.

However, South Australian based shark expert Andrew Fox said he would not be surprised if a bull shark was involved.

"It may mean the bull sharks have moved into the area and are feeding and they're a pretty large, robust shark," Mr Fox told Sky News.

The fact the woman was swimming with an animal and late in the afternoon could have contributed to the shark attack, he said.

"It's known ... not to swim with animals - I don't know how much that contributed in this particular case but it's a certainly one of the guidelines," Mr Fox said.

He denied there had been an increase in shark attacks across Australia in recent years.

"There's definitely been a bigger increase in the attention to shark attack ... with a lot of photographs being put into the media it makes us more aware," he said.

"Statistically there's very little change in recent years."

He said the risk of shark attack was "very, very low compared to just about any other form of danger".

But he implored swimmers to minimise the threat by avoiding waters in the early morning or late afternoon and swimming near deep-water channels.

"A lot of attacks are in shallow water - that's got to do with 99.9 per cent of people usually staying in shallow water - but deeper water is even more of a risk," he said.

Suzanne Deed, owner of the Amity Bungalows at Amity Point, which coincidently bears a similar name as the fictitious Amity Island - where swimmers were savaged in the movie Jaws - said onlookers believed a tiger shark was responsible.

"My daughter saw the whole thing. She was swimming in the water and she was actually further out than the girl who was attacked," Ms Deed told the Sunday Mail.

"She wasn't very far out - there are lots of dolphins and people like to swim with them."


http://www.smh.com.au/news/general/beac ... 75548.html
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Postby sharkbait » Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:58 pm

Woman killed in shark attack
From: The Sunday Mail (Qld) By Edmund Burke and Lou Robson
January 08, 2006

Tragedy ... the victim is rushed to hospital. Pic: Channel 9 A WOMAN in her early 20s has died after a horrific shark attack off North Stradbroke Island, east of Brisbane late yesterday.

The woman lost both arms and suffered severe wounds to her torso and legs in the savage attack at Amity Point about 5pm.
A rescue helicopter rushed her to Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital but surgeons could not save her.

It is believed the woman was holidaying from Brisbane. Last night, police were trying to contact her family.

Emergency Services Rescue Helicopter crew officer Rod Morgan said the woman had suffered massive blood loss.

"She was very pale" he said.

"We were diverted right away and were able to be on the scene within minutes and were able to have the patient at hospital within an hour of the attack."
Several distraught witnesses were being interviewed by police at Amity Point last night.

A local woman, who didn't want to be identified, said the victim arrived on the island only yesterday.

She said the victim was swimming with her border collie when the attack happened and the dog ran home to raise the alarm.

"I was across the road from where she was staying and I saw the dog come flying up the road all wet and shivering and whimpering," she said.

"Then a little boy came running up and said the girl had lost her leg and her arm and everyone ran out of the house towards the beach."

She said the frenzied dog had to be restrained.

"It was just a little black-and-white dog but he was crazy so I locked him under the house," she said.

Suzanne Deed, owner of the Amity Bungalows, which are a short distance away from Flinders Beach where the attack happened, said: "As she was dragged out of the water a friend or relative of the girl was crying, 'She's only 21, she's only 21'. My daughter saw the whole thing. She was swimming in the water and she was actually farther out than the girl who was attacked.

"Somebody came running down the beach shouting, 'Shark!' and the next thing my daughter saw the girl being dragged out of the water.

"She wasn't very far out - there are lots of dolphins there and people like to swim with them. We've never had a shark attack.

"There were quite a few people on the beach who saw what happened. I've been told by people who were there that it was a tiger shark."

Amity Point fisherman Miles Scott confirmed other people were in the water at the time of the attack.

"A couple of people were down there, swimming around her about 50m from her," he said.

"A shark just came in and attacked her. They just saw her struggling."

Mr Scott, owner of Fresh Local Seafood at Amity Point, said locals had long been concerned about sharks.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time. We've always thought someone was going to be taken here.

"I'm a crabber and at this time of the year massive bull sharks come over the bar.

"It's nothing to see 10 or a dozen bull sharks under our boat when we are crabbing and they are really aggressive - they are not like normal sharks."

Rod Farrell, who owns Amity Point Waterfront Cabins, just 100m from the attack site, said the woman who raised the alarm was staying in one of his cabins.

"She ran up and down the beach screaming at people to get out of the water, and was on the mobile to Triple-0," Mr Farrell said. "She was pretty hysterical."

Mr Farrell said he believed the victim was swimming in a channel that locals avoided because they feared shark attacks.

"We're forever telling little ones and tourists not to swim late in the afternoon or at night, especially in the summer," he said.

Amity Point resident of 20 years Brad Ross said tourists had been warned about the area.

"The shore just falls away into 30m of water and there are plenty of bull sharks out there," Mr Ross said.

"People know when they enter the water there they're stepping into a shark habitat."

Other beaches on the island are protected by drum lines.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,17 ... 48,00.html
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Postby sharkbait » Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:18 pm

Shark 'chased rescuers, victim ashore'
Greg Roberts

POLICE believe as many as three bull sharks were responsible for a fatal attack on a Brisbane woman, with at least one shark chasing rescuers as they dragged her mauled body to the shore.

Witnesses said the shark continued to savage Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, after she lost both arms in the vicious attack just 20m offshore at a beach on North Stradbroke Island.
She is the first person killed by a shark attack at a protected beach in the 44-year history of Queensland's controversial Shark Safety Program.

According to police, witnesses thought Ms Whiley was joking when the attack began and she started yelling "shark".

She was pronounced dead shortly after being airlifted to Brisbane's Princess Alexander Hospital. Ms Whiley lost both arms below the elbow, was mauled around the torso and also sustained major wounds to one of her legs.


Recent shark attacks
Dec 2004: Mark Thompson, 38, killed by a shark while spear-fishing at Opal Reef off Cairns
Dec 2004: Nick Peterson, 18, mauled to death by a great white while being towed on a surfboard behind a boat 200m off Adelaide's West Beach
Aug 2005: Marine biologist Jarrod Stehbens, 23, killed while collecting cuttlefish eggs 5km from Adelaide's main metropolitan beach
Sept 2005: Jake Heron, 40, survived a shark attack while surfing at Fishery Bay, near Port Lincoln in SA

Ms Whiley, from the Brisbane suburb of McDowall, went to the Rainbow Channel beach at dusk on Saturday with eight friends from a church group, which was renting a nearby holiday house.

A witness to the attack said the victim was about 20m from shore in chest-deep water, 5m out from a cluster of three or four friends.

"She started yelling out for help and everybody just stopped and looked around," said Vivienne Holcroft, who watched the tragedy from the beach. "Nobody knew what was happening. There were a lot of dolphins in the water. Then she started screaming again. Her friends rushed towards her.

"Another fellow raced into the water. They grabbed her and brought her in and the shark followed along behind them with its fin sticking out of the water."

Josiah Tupou was on the beach with his family when he swam out to try to save Ms Whiley. "I heard this girl screaming and I ran out to the water and I just saw her bobbing up and down and calling for help," he told the Nine Network.

Relative Ungu Tupou also went to help the victim. "I went to grab her arm and her arm wasn't there."

Inspector Peter Harding said Ms Whiley disappeared below the water for several seconds before emerging and screaming "shark". "Of course, people at the time thought she was only joking -- until they saw the blood," he said. Rescuers used towels in a desperate bid to stem the blood flow before Ms Whiley was airlifted to hospital, where she died 90 minutes later.

Tara Deed, 14, and her friend Kelly Rush, 17, were among those who gathered around Ms Whiley after she was dragged on to the beach.

"People had towels out and whatever, trying to do what they could to help," Tara said. "It was terrible. After she was taken away, everybody stood around hugging. It could have been any one of us in the water."

Friends rallied behind the Whiley family yesterday as they mourned their loss. "Sarah was the prettiest girl I ever saw ... she was an excellent swimmer," Ms Whiley's sister Sian said.

"She could swim before she could walk."

While police claimed two or three sharks were responsible, witnesses reported only one, probably an aggressive bull or tiger shark attracted by fish and crabs, and hidden in murky and deceptively deep water.

Local fisherman Gordon Dix said the beach was unsafe for swimming. The water dropped sharply into a deep channel and was often murky, with runoff from Moreton Bay emptying into the ocean, particularly after storms. "This was a tragedy waiting to happen," Mr Dix said.

Acting Shark Safety Program manager Tony Ham said he believed from witness descriptions that a bull shark about 2m long was the culprit.

The bull shark, one of the whaler group of sharks, was responsible worldwide for more attacks on people than any other shark species and was particularly aggressive. "One shark of this size would have been capable of inflicting a large amount of damage," Mr Ham said.

Bull sharks have accounted for 15 of the 18 sharks that have been caught on hooks suspended off inflatable buoys off Amity Point in the past 10 years.

Acting Premier Anna Bligh ordered a review of the Shark Safety Program but maintained that beaches with measures such as the inflatable "drum line" hooks and nets had proved safer than unprotected coastline.

The last shark attack on North Stradbroke Island was in 1973. Two people have been killed by bull sharks in recent years while swimming in unprotected Gold Coast canals, with another fatality in the Whitsundays in 2004.

The baits on the drum lines had been restocked on Saturday morning and no sharks had been caught when the hooks were checked yesterday. Beaches in the area were closed as water police patrolled offshore and authorities warned tourists of the dangers.

Authorities in NSW also warned beachgoers to be alert following a number of shark sightings along the state's coast.

McDonald's Aerial Patrol general manager Harry Mitchell said sharks had been spotted off beaches between Stanwell Park, south of Sydney, and Mollymook, on the state's south coast.

Many sharks, up to 4m long, were seen as close as 25m from swimmers up to 130km south of Sydney including Coalcliff, Port Kembla, Windang and Seven Mile Beach. A white pointer was seen off Ulladulla, 230km south of Sydney.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/co ... 01,00.html
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Re: 01/07/2006 Sarah Kate Whiley (Australia) ***Fatal***

Postby sharkbait » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:42 pm

By Matt Watson

Posted July 9, 2008 13:25:00
Updated July 9, 2008 13:45:00
Josiah Topou a true shark attack hero.
sarah_wiley_rescurer.jpg (11.29 KiB) Viewed 19644 times

Josiah Topou, who received a bravery award from Qld Governor Quentin Bryce. (ABC News)

Map: Amity Point 4183 On January 7, 2006, a young woman swam with friends in the ocean near an unpatrolled beach at Amity Point, off North Stradbroke Island in south-east Queensland.

The beach was unpatrolled and the day was getting old.

When 21-year old Sarah Whiley suddenly yelled "shark", her friends and those on the beach thought she was kidding.

Josiah Topou was sitting on the beach with his wife and five children when he heard the screams.

Hoping her screams were in jest, Mr Topou - with Sarah about 15 metres offshore - ran into the water and swam out thinking if she wasn't kidding, she was drowning or getting attacked by a shark.

If it was a shark though, Mr Topou had a simple plan - aggression against aggression.

"Maybe I can divert it a bit because I've heard of people kicking and punching sharks," he said.

As Mr Topou drew near he didn't see the sharks.

There were three of them nearby, as Sarah thrashed about, bleeding badly.

'Help me'

As he gathered her, she looked at him and said two words, "Help me".

The slow swim back to the beach must've been the most harrowing 15 metres of Mr Topou's life.

Sarah had been mauled by sharks which, having fed and tasted blood could've attacked any moment.

"As I was going out I knew there was danger," he said.

On the shore horrified witnesses could see the sharks nearby as Mr Topou carried her slowly through the water.

Thankfully the sharks didn't mount another offensive. Maybe they weren't hungry any more, but a pod of dolphins came to Sarah's aid, too.

"I was bringing her in - there was actually dolphins between me and Sarah and the sharks were on the other side," he said.

He emerged from the water with Sarah and carried her up the beach, putting her on a towel, using others to cover her wounds.

The shark had torn open her torso and bitten off both her hands.

She was bleeding madly, telling people to get away. They had to hold her down, did the best they could to comfort her.

Sarah was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital but died less than an hour after the attack.

Bravery award

Last week, at a ceremony at Brisbane's Government House, Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce pinned a medal for bravery on Mr Topou's chest and thanked him.

"Splendid valour to plunge through the water," Ms Bryce told the gathering.

After the formalities, Mr Topou, a slight man, about 70 kilograms, said he wasn't a hero, that Sarah was the real hero.

He spoke softly, with a heavy accent.

The incident traumatised his family for months.

His kids wouldn't go swimming, not even in a pool. The day Sarah died had been too much. They'd seen everything.

"We kept trying to push them away but they were right there," he said.

Again he said Sarah was the hero.

"I think she battled it, she battled the sharks, that's why her hands were bitten," he said.

"She fought them before anybody reached her."

But he is too humble. He swam into the ocean knowing sharks were lurking nearby, to rescue a woman he didn't know.

Traumatic memories

Although he didn't see the shark, people on the beach did, including his family.

"I'm all right," he said, about the memory, the danger, the trauma his family suffered.

"I give glory to God for everything."

No doubt he's a hero to Sarah, despite her death, his family and the witnesses, doing what he could with grim determination, shutting out the danger.

As he spoke to the media, Mr Topou was hesitant, speaking so softly, clearly still traumatised by Sarah's death.

No longer, he insisted, did it dominate his thoughts, the nagging horror of knowing she died satiated by the dreadful understanding there was nothing else he could do but risk his life and try to save hers.

He said he'd come to terms with Sarah's death and his actions.

Daughter named Sarah

About three months after sharks killed Sarah, Mr Topou's sixth child - a daughter - was born and given what happened, the choice of name was simple.

"We though God's taken away one Sarah. My wife was six months pregnant at the time so we thought we'd name our daughter Sarah in memory of the one God took away," he said.

With that statement, Mr Topou proved his courage is worth more than swimming 15 metres, in shark-infested waters, to help someone he'd never met.

Every moment Mr Topou thinks about his daughter, each time he lays eyes on her, thoughts of bringing Sarah from the water, laying her down and seeing her injuries must flash across his mind.

No one is ever prepared for that. No one could honestly say, either, they'd be willing or able to swim with sharks until they need to.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008 ... e=brisbane
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