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01/05/2020 - Gary Johnson 57 yr - Australia - *** Fatal ***

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Re: 01/05/2020 - Gary Johnson 57 yr - Australia - *** Fatal ***

Post by alb »

WA inquest hears confronting details about death of shark attack victim Gary Johnson

Horrifying details about a shark attack that killed experienced scuba diver Gary Johnson in WA have been revealed during an inquest.

The wife of a shark attack victim eventually had to give up her desperate attempt to pull him back onto their boat when she realised his “eyes were open but he was unresponsive”, a WA inquest has heard.

Experienced recreational scuba diver Gary Johnson had just entered the water with his wife of 14 years Karen Milligan when he was mauled at Devils Rock off Esperance on January 5.

The WA Coroner’s Court heard on Tuesday that Mr Johnson was wearing a wetsuit, an oceanic computer on his left wrist, a torch on his right wrist and a knife strapped to his leg.

He was also wearing a buoyancy compensator device, a 15 litre air tank, blue fins and a shark shield, officer assisting the coroner Craig Robertson said in his opening address.

“Ms Milligan described Mr Johnson as being a very cautious diver and it was his habit to attach a black rope to a rock on the seabed as a secondary anchor in case the wind picked up,” Senior Constable Robertson said.

“Mr Johnson would turn off his shark shield when he reached the bottom to tie off the rope ... because the rope had previously tangled on the shield and given him a shock.

“He would religiously turn it back on again when the rope was secured.”.

When the couple reached the bottom, which was a depth of about 15 metres, Mr Johnson disappeared over a mound, then reappeared and Ms Milligan could see him from his thighs up.

“She thought it unusual as it was not normal for him to do this,” Constable Robertson said.

Ms Milligan swam towards her husband, but when she arrived at the mound the water became “full of blood and sand”, then she saw a large shark tail “flapping” up and down.

“She swam forward in an attempt to strike the tail with the camera she was holding and is unsure if she made contact,” Constable Robertson said.

When normal visibility returned, Ms Milligan could not see the shark or Mr Johnson, so she swam towards the surface and bumped into her husband.

“His eyes were open, but he was unresponsive,” Constable Robertson said.

“She saw that he had suffered a traumatic injury to his right arm and was no longer wearing his mask or air tank.”

Ms Milligan swam with Mr Johnson back to their boat but she could not get him on-board.

“Ms Milligan had formed the belief that her husband was no longer alive and her attempts to get him on-board the boat were futile,” Constable Robertson said.

Once she released her grip on Mr Johnson, he sank beneath the waves.

An emergency search began soon after, but only a small piece of Mr Johnson’s wetsuit was found floating on the surface.

Divers later recovered his diving vest, buoyancy compensator device and oxygen tank.

“The items showed clear signs of a shark attack,” Constable Robertson said.

An inquest is being held to formally declare Mr Johnson is dead.

In a statement shortly after Mr Johnson’s death, Ms Milligan described him as a kind, gentle and strong man.

“He and I were at home in and on the ocean,” she said.

“We would go out diving in our boat whenever we could, most weekends.

“We were always aware of the risks and often told each other that if we were attacked by a shark that would just be unlucky.”

In a social media post from November 2017, Mr Johnson said he wore a shark protection device because it gave him peace of mind like a car seatbelt.

“In my nine years diving in Esperance (most weekends - weather permitting) I have only seen one shark - a bronze whaler who showed absolutely no interest in me,” he wrote.

Esperance has some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, but it is also notorious for fatal and serious shark attacks.

Following the attack on Mr Johnson, the state government installed three shark warning towers at popular beaches around the area.

The most recent fatal shark attack in the area was just last month when surfer Andrew Sharpe was mauled at Kelp Beds.

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Re: 01/05/2020 - Gary Johnson - Australia - *** Fatal ***

Post by alb »

Shark attack victim identified as Esperance man Gary Johnson.jpg
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01/05/2020 - Gary Johnson 57 yr - Australia - *** Fatal ***

Post by alb »

Shark attack victim identified as Esperance man Gary Johnson as search for body resumes

A number of items including a gas tank have been retrieved from the water by police searching for the body of an Esperance man killed by a shark off Western Australia's south coast.
Key points:

Gary Johnson was attacked by a suspected great white shark while diving
Some of his gear was found near Cull Island but his body is still missing
It is understood Mr Johnson was an experienced recreational diver

Local man Gary Johnson had entered the water to go scuba diving off a boat near Cull Island on Sunday afternoon when moments later he was taken by a suspected great white shark.

His wife was on board the boat and made a frantic mayday call over the radio about 1:00pm.

Other nearby boat owners were the first on the scene near the island, about 7 kilometres offshore from Esperance, but all they could find was some of Mr Johnson's diving gear.

His wife was eventually taken back to shore where a waiting ambulance took her to Esperance Hospital suffering from shock.

Mr Johnson was an experienced recreational diver and president of the Esperance Dive Club.

He was also a well-liked member of the local community who worked for a farming machinery retailer and was a regular at the Esperance Squash Club.

"That's the saddest thing … they've been such great contributors, they knew the sea well and for Gary to lose his life in such a way is really very disappointing," he said.

"The man's knowledge of the ocean, his ability to dive, it's just unexplainable how come he was taken by a shark.

"I'm sure there'll be a lot of support for [his wife] as the survivor, and certainly around the dive community."

The shark responsible for the attack has not been found.

Beaches are expected to remain closed in the area until at least later today.
Gas tank among items retrieved by police divers

Police divers returned from the search for Mr Johnson's body this morning with an oxygen tank and other materials in a brown paper bag.

The items were carried straight to a waiting police car and driven The divers then went back out to sea to resume the search.

Boat owners who responded to the mayday call yesterday said there was little to be found.

"We found a couple of flippers and a sleeve in the water, basically that was about it," local Glenn Quinlivan said.

While police divers are attending the search for Mr Johnson, they are not entering the water as it has been deemed too dangerous.

Water Police, volunteer marine rescue and Department of Fisheries vessels are searching on the water, along with two surf rescue jet ski riders.

Police are also searching the ocean from above, while fisheries staff are deploying a remote-operated vehicle which can search beneath the surface.
Call for more action over shark attacks

It is the second fatal shark attack in Esperance in three years after 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was bitten while surfing with her father at Kelp Beds in April 2017.
A profile shot of a smiling teenage girl with long blond hair.
Photo: Laeticia Brouwer was fatally attacked by a shark while surfing near Esperance in 2017. (Supplied: Police)

The Esperance Ocean Safety Group, which has campaigned for stronger action to minimise the shark threat, said it was frustrating more had not been done in response to previous attacks.

"It was only a matter of time, there have been so many [sharks] hanging around lately," the group's Mitch Capelli said.

"History is going to keep repeating itself unfortunately."

The WA Government is conducting a trial of so-called SMART drum lines in the South West region to try to reduce the number of shark attacks there after two non-fatal shark attacks in the area in recent years.

But the technology is not being trialled around Esperance.

Mr Mickel said the local council would examine the current drum line trials to see if they might work for Esperance.

There have been 16 fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000.

Cull Island is one of hundreds of small islands and rocky outcrops that form the Recherche Archipelago off the Esperance coast, which supports abundant marine life.

The island has little vegetation on it and is a popular destination for fishing, snorkelling and diving.

Locals attribute the name of the island to a few goats that are the sole inhabitants there.

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