Suspected fatal shark attack victim named

Kaelah Marlow. Photo: NZ Police.

Police can now release the name of the young woman who died at Waihi Beach

She was Kaelah Marlow, aged 19, from Hamilton.

Emergency services were called to the beach at about 5.10pm on Thursday after reports of a woman being injured in the water.

"Police extend our deepest sympathies to Kaelah's family and loved ones at this very difficult time," says a police spokesperon.

"As noted in an earlier release, the matter will be referred to the Coroner."

Marlow was understood to have gotten into trouble at the beach while swimming.

Amanda Gould who was in the water just five metres away from the shark attack victim, says Marlow was pulled out by a rip before the fatal attack.

Gould was swimming waist-deep with her husband and two boys, aged 8 and 10, when she saw the victim get separated from her group of friends and pulled out to deep water.

“We were in the water at the same time as the girl and her friends... they were about five metres in front of us, but they kept getting further and further out.

“She got separated from all her friends and was pulled really far out, beyond where the surfers would sit.”

Gould didn’t feel comfortable in the water due to a strong rip and decided to head back into shore.

That’s when the horrors unfolded in front of her.

“You could tell she was struggling because there is no way she would go that far out.

“No one saw her waving out, but I did hear a scream.”

Lifeguards then came to her aid.

Gould says it took about five minutes to get the rescue boat out to her due to rough conditions.

“It was so rough and every time they tried to push the boat out it kept coming back in.”

It wasn’t until the victim was pulled from the water, and taken to shore, that Gould realised what happened.

“I thought there was another person out there, but the lifeguard said ‘no, that’s a shark, we need to get people out of the water’.

“So I was watching the shark’s fin go around, not another person.

“I didn’t see any blood... she was alive and when they got to shore. They started CPR straight away.”

It was chaos, Gould says, there were people panicking.

“It was shocking, surreal, and we were all a bit freaked keeps playing on my mind.

“I’m really sad for the girl and I feel for the family. It’s so shocking that someone’s life can be taken away just by that one event, one minute she’s swimming and the next she’s pulled out and then that happened. It’s quite dreadful.”

Stuff understands that the victim had bite wounds to at least one of her legs and that the shark involved was a white pointer (great white).

A post-mortem, being carried on Friday, would provide police with a clearer understanding of what happened. However, the Coroner would ultimately determine the cause of death.

The Goulds, who are staying at Bowentown Beach Holiday Park, often travel over from Tauranga and say Thursday's tragedy wouldn't put an end to their love of water.

“I would still swim and I won’t stop the children from swimming either.

“I will just be careful of the conditions and not go beyond my depth and the boys won’t go beyond chest height.”

A rahui is in place at the beach.

Several great white sharks have been seen in the Waihi area before a fatal attack.

-Additional reporting from 

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Posted on 09-01-2021 15:27 | By terry hall

people have to realize that these sharks are hungry, with the hot weather and sea temperature on the rise food is scarce, they are in looking for sting rays and bottom feeding fish such as gurnard, all those large predator fish do look at wellington orcas in the Habour patrolling the shallows for sun bathing stingrays, more people should read about the sea creatures and get to understand their environment and how they live, they will be safer, i have been a land base fisherman for many years including salt water fly fishing it makes it easier to catch fish if you do.


Posted on 09-01-2021 14:49 | By morepork

Great whites are ambush predators and prefer deeper water where they can hide better. We all need to consider the risks of going into such water. This report made me feel deep sorrow for the girl and her family. It also makes me think we maybe should have drone patrols over popular beaches, although this might not help much in deep water.

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