Special Report filed by AAF Animal Attack Files Special Report
from This Is London

      Father killed in shark attack

Monday, November 6, 2000

by Frank Thorne in Sydney

Perth Shark AttackScores of people watched in horror as a father of three was killed by a shark off a beach near Perth, Western Australia, today.

One of the 49-year-old man's legs was bitten off by the 16-foot Great White as he swam with friends just 50 yards from the shore.

The attack, off popular North Cottesloe Beach, happened at about 6.30am as the shallow waters were crowded with early-morning swimmers. There were about 100 people on the beach. Two men used a surf-ski to pull the victim ashore but he died at the scene, despite frantic efforts by surf club medics.

One of the rescuers, Dirk Avery, 52, was also bitten on the feet and legs before the shark swam way. He later underwent surgery and was also treated for shock.

An elderly woman, who had also been swimming with the group, was treated at the scene after suffering heart pains, but was not taken to hospital.

Eye-witness Di McCusker, who had just left the water, said: "All of a sudden, I heard this yelling and screaming and looked down the beach, saw the blood in the water and realised what had happened. Everything went on from there. The beach was cleared and we were trying to do our best to help."

Beach café owner Kim Gamble said he had never seen a bigger shark. The first thing he saw was blood spreading in the water.

"There was a whole sea of blood and the shark was pulling the person. It's something I wouldn't want to see again," said Mr Gamble.

Perth priest, Fr Brian Morrison, a friend of the dead man - whose name was not immediately released by the authorities - saw the attack from the shore.

"Two men went to the rescue. One was hurt on the legs but the other man, I think, is the hero because he really tried to drag his friend away from the shark," said a devastated Fr Morrison.

Today's death follows two fatal shark attacks by Great Whites in South Australia in September. It was the second shark attack at Cottesloe in three years, although there has not been a fatal attack in Perth for more than 30 years.

Sea-rescue authorities said there had been more sightings than usual of Great Whites off the coast. Only last month, Perth beachgoers were warned after two sharks - one believed to be a white pointer - were seen.

A fisheries expert said there was an increased risk of shark attacks in November and December because sharks follow migrating whales down the West Australian coast.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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