Special Report filed by AAF Bill MayAnimal Attack Files Special Report
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      Shark attack witnesses praise rescuers

Monday, November 6, 2000

AAP --

Two men fought desperately to hunt away a shark as it fatally mauled a friend off one of Perth's most popular beaches today.

Local businessman and father-of-three Ken Crew, 49, died after having his leg ripped off by what fisheries officers believe to be a white pointer shark up to four metres long.

Witnesses praised the bravery of two men who tried to fend off the shark and pulled the dying man from the water.

Mr Crew was returning from his daily swim when he was attacked about 30 metres off Cottesloe beach around 6.30am (WST).

Fellow swimmer Dirk Avery, 52, suffered deep wounds on his feet as he tried to fight off the shark. He was in a stable condition tonight in Fremantle Hospital, where he was taken for surgery.

A second rescuer, identified only as John, was unhurt.

The men were part of a group of about 10 swimmers returning to shore when the shark attacked in waist-deep water.

Father Brian Morrison, a Perth priest and friend of the dead man, was watching from a nearby cafe.

"Two men went to rescue - one was hurt on the legs, he's in hospital, but we don't know if it's too serious," he told ABC radio.

"The other man I think is the hero because he really tried to drag him away from the shark.

"He seemed to run in and try to get rid of the shark in some way."

Father Morrison administered the last rites to Mr Crew as he lay on the beach.

Family friend Lee Tate said a "very brave" Mr Avery had tried to kick the shark away from Mr Crew.

"When Ken was attacked by the shark the other man was attempting to kick that shark away standing on the reef," he said.

"The shark was so big and so many people saw it and had called out `shark' ... but by that stage the attack had happened and people were basically helpless to do anything about it.

"He (Mr Crew) was helped onto shore with a severe loss of blood and unfortunately, as I understand it, he died on the beach."

Mr Tate said Mr Crew's wife Robin was walking on the beach when the attack happened, and although she did not see the incident, was at the scene soon after he was dragged to shore.

Mrs Crew had suffered severe shock and trauma as a result, he said.

The attacked happened in front of scores of witnesses at the popular beach, including cafe owner Kim Gamble, whose fashionable Blue Duck Cafe overlooks the scene of the attack.

A distressed Mr Gamble described a "sea of blood" spreading in the water as the shark attacked.

"From the balcony I could see this huge shark - it was really huge," he said. "There was a whole sea of blood and it was pulling the person.

"It's something I wouldn't want to see again."

One rescuer who helped drag Mr Crew to shore was taken to hospital in an ambulance suffering shock, surf officials said.

Beaches from Fremantle to Hillarys remained closed as police and fisheries officials mounted an intensive sea and aerial search for the shark.

A four-metre white pointer was spotted at Cottesloe more than three hours after the attack and was followed by officials in boats and helicopters for about 45 minutes before they lost sight of it.

Fisheries WA research director Dr James Penn said the great white was a protected species and would only be killed as a last resort and after special permission had been obtained from environmental agencies.

Last month, Perth beachgoers were warned to take care after two sharks - one believed to be a white pointer - were spotted off the city's northern beaches.

Today's attack was the second at Cottesloe in three years.

In October 1997, two men escaped injury when a five-metre shark - again believed to be a white pointer - bit their surf-ski in half 200 metres off shore.

There had not been a fatal shark attack in Western Australia since 1995, when David Alan Weir, 29, was killed while diving for abalone on the south coast.

Today's death follows two fatal shark attacks in South Australia in September.

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