Shark Kills 15-Year-Old Surfer in 'Startling' Trend

It's South Australia's 3rd fatal shark attack since May
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2023 11:43 AM CST
Shark Kills 15-Year-Old Surfer in 'Startling' Trend
This image made from video shows Ethel Beach, South Australia, on Friday.   (Australian Broadcasting Corp. via AP)

A 15-year-old surfer was killed by a suspected great white shark off South Australia on Thursday in the state's third fatal shark attack since May, the AP reports. Khai Cowley was fatally mauled off Innes National Park's remote Ethel Beach, a popular surfing spot at the tip of the Yorke Peninsula west of Adelaide. "I can't think of anything more horrific, particularly at this time of year," said South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, per the Guardian. The teen, who hailed from Maslin Beach south of Adelaide, was remembered as a "talented" and "well respected" surfer. He'd joined the MicroGroms Junior Boardriders surf club in 2016.

"We are devastated to learn that a young, talented and dearly loved member of our surfing community was the surfer involved in the attack at Ethel Beach, and are absolutely shattered to hear that the incident was fatal," Surfing SA said in a statement. "Our utmost deepest sympathies are with his family." Residents recalled seeing sharks, including great whites, in the area but said the attack came as a shock. "It's stuff nightmares are made of," local skipper Ryan Valente told ABC Radio on Friday, per the Guardian. Experts said the ambush predators may have become more active in the region amid Thursday's overcast conditions.

Two others died in suspected shark attacks off the state's coast in May and October. Their bodies were never found. "We've seen 11 fatal shark attacks in South Australia since the year 2000, so the fact we've seen three across this summer is startling and it is of concern," Malinauskas said, per the Guardian. Khai's body was recovered, per the BBC. A witness tells ABC News that he was attacked roughly 100 feet from shore. Emergency services responded but were unable to save the teen. (More shark attack stories.)

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