The 19-year-old woman killed in New Zealand’s first fatal shark attack in eight years has been identified as an Australian.
Kaelah Marlow is believed to have been mauled by a great white shark after being pulled out by a rip at Waihī Beach on New Zealand’s North Island.
She had been living in Hamilton, about 120km south of Auckland, after relocating from Perth five years ago.
Ms Marlow – a student at Waikato Institute of Technology – was seen bobbing in the water for at least 15 minutes before rescuers were able to reach her.
She was brought to shore alive with serious injuries to her leg and later died.
Ms Marlow went to Cambridge High School, with the community in mourning for the “life taken away too soon”.
“Our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Kaelah,” a tribute read.
Ms Gould was swimming waist-deep with her husband and two boys, aged eight and 10, when she saw the victim separated from her group 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,” Ms Gould told Stuff.
“She got separated from all her friends and was pulled really far out, beyond where the surfers would sit.”
Ms 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.
She estimated that the woman was out there for at least 15-minutes before people realised she needed help.
“You could tell she was struggling because there is no way she would go that far out,” Ms Gould said.
“No one saw her waving out, but I did hear a scream.”
Lifeguards then came to her aid.
Ms Gould said 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 Ms 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,'” she said.
“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, Ms Gould said, there were people panicking.
“It was shocking, surreal, and we were all a bit freaked out – it keeps playing on my mind,” she said.
“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.”
A post-mortem will provide police with a clearer understanding of what happened, however the Coroner will ultimately determine the cause of death.
New Zealand police named Ms Marlow as the victim overnight.